Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Moby -- MobySongs 1993–1998
Wikipedia is fallible. Extremely fallible. Anyone with an Internet-equipped device can edit any entry, including me. I've edited quite a few, as quite a few have been wrong (until I fixed them). For the album I'm reviewing in this entry, MobySongs 1993-1998, I deleted most of Wikipedia's first paragraph, as it contained the undocumented, subjective line that MobySongs is generally regarded as a bad greatest hits album, as it does not contain any of Moby's radio hits from Play onward. OF COURSE IT DOESN'T, IDIOT, IT SAYS RIGHT IN THE TITLE THAT IT ONLY COVERS THE FIVE YEARS OF MOBY'S CAREER BEFORE PLAY! THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF THIS ALBUM IS TO GIVE THE LISTENER A FULL PICTURE OF MOBY'S MUSIC BEFORE HE FOUND HIS FAMOUS, SIGNATURE SOUND! It is not supposed to be a greatest hits album. Why do people who don't understand things believe that they should create encyclopedia entries for those things? IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY!!!
With that out of the way, let me talk about the actual listening quality of MobySongs 1993–1998.
I personally picked up MobySongs 1993–1998 long after Moby's popular music career had flared out, Play and 18 in the public's rearview. I had very fond memories of Play and 18 (moreso Play), used CD's were buy one get one free that day, and why not. I quickly realized that I had heard many of these songs before, and that I had enjoyed Moby's work long before Play changed my world.
MobySongs starts with "First Cool Hive," which I first heard in the summer of 1997, at the end of the movie Scream. Scream also introduced me to the music of Nick Cave, plus, I found the film entertaining enough to watch five or six times, so thanks, Wes Craven. "First Cool Hive" mixes Moby's dance and house sensibilities with a laid back bass grove, a smoky, wordless female vocal, and keyboards that increase in intensity as the song goes on, leading to an ambient outro. It still sounds cool today. The next track,"Go," shows off more of Moby's faster techno side, though it does have a nice quiet breakdown. Then "Into the Blue" shows off Moby's brooding side, a chillier, mellow song featuring soaring, yet downbeat female vocals. "Now I Let It Go" follows, featuring a mournful fiddle and electric guitar...and no beat, showcasing Moby's more contemplative tones. A little later, "I Like to Score" shows of Moby's funky, retro side. Really, I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, MobySongs 1993–1998 shows Moby's incredible diversity as an artist, far before he became a worldwide phenomenon.
The best part about MobySongs 1993–1998 is that the producers actually made an effort to make the collection feel like a full album, and their meticulous track-listing decisions pay dividends, and give MobySongs 1993–1998 a real emotional arc. Honestly, this album is near perfect, sans "Feeling So Real," whose I just drank 24 Surge-Colas' hyperactivity has never quite gelled with me, and the gargantuan "Alone," whose near 11-minute running time disrupts the otherwise excellent flow of MobySongs (especially as "Alone" follows the stunning "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters."). Hey, I just mentioned "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" in a parenthetical, but let's break all the rules, and pretend like I mentioned it in the real, non-parenthetical world. I first heard "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" at the end of the incredible film, Heat, and the song's majestic power lifts that movie's final seconds into a realm of greatness few films ever reach.
\ With all that said, I think the most important thing to note is just how inventive Moby was during this period. I think Play, released during the last year of the 20th Century, is by far Moby's zenith, but tracks like MobySongs' sublime "The Rain Falls and the Sky Shudders," featuring the sound of rain, piano solos, a steady bass line, and a wash of ambient noise, prove that it's a peak he was angling for all along.
1. First Cool Hive 5:16
2. Go 3:59
3. Into the Blue 5:32
4. Now I Let It Go 2:09
5. Move (You Make Me Feel So Good) 3:37
6. I Like to Score 2:21
7. Anthem 3:27
8. Hymn 3:18
9. Feeling So Real 3:23
10. God Moving Over the Face of the Waters 5:45
11. Alone 10:47
12. Novio 2:39
13. The Rain Falls and the Sky Shudders 6:16
14. When It's Cold I'd Like to Die 4:15
15. Living 7:01
16. Grace 5:25