Saturday, February 15, 2014

Everything Is Wrong (1995)

I'd been aware of Moby before Everything Is Wrong, but this third album by him (not counting anthologies and remix projects) was about where I got on board with the larger project—as I recall, it got a lot of warm reviews, and was the shiny object of everyone's attention for a few minutes. It is uneven—Moby seems to have some formal ideas about incorporating electric guitar and punk-rock noise into some of these tracks—something about "authenticity" I think, or maybe it was just that it was still the post-grunge times. They don't work as well. I get the sense Moby decided "punk-rock" meant "ugly as you can make it," which of course is wrong. But not everything here is, by any means. In fact, the high points—"Hymn," "Feeling So Real," "Everytime You Touch Me," and many others, including the exquisitely titled "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" (longest song here, clocking in at 7:22)—are high points of his whole catalog. Everything Is Wrong is not skimpy with them at all. I think these soaring exercises he seems capable of pealing off are just remarkable, reducing me to all kinds of tender emotional submersions. Moby's music absolutely can take one by surprise. It is startling in its beauty, deeply felt and moving, even against one's will, though all he appears to be doing objectively is touching high notes on keyboards, powered by interesting beats. Actually, it's the melodies doing the work, and the gospel sources, tracing dynamics and swells so few even try for, entering spiritual realms of peace and joy. Listen to me. I am often surprised all over again when I play his stuff. Speculation: Eminem hates Moby so much for exactly this reason (if indeed that is anything more than a convenient public stance Eminem has adopted, which is quite possible, though the animus feels real, not least for its persistence). Moby is Gallant to Eminem's Goofus, and everything he touches becomes good and beautiful. No wonder Eminem resents him. I suppose Moby might also seem lame to a red-blooded American character such as Eminem, but hey, Moby is the one with bloodlines back to Herman Melville. In fairness, and as a consumer guide note, the best of Everything Is Wrong is collected (and the least of it eliminated) on the anthology MobySongs 1993-1998, which is probably the wiser use of your money.

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