sat 20/07/2024

Album: Moby - Always Centered at Night | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Moby - Always Centered at Night

Album: Moby - Always Centered at Night

A sprinkling of well-wrought songs enliven a sometimes unstimulating collaborative album

Moby goes noir

US electronic perennial Moby has had a good run. He was a rave culture phenomenon from 1991 onwards. He blew that with a vegan punk album. He released Play at the decade’s end and sold millions. He then had decadent superstar years, a run of huge, often juicy albums. He quit booze’n’drugs in 2008.

His music blossomed again, culminating in a trio of albums raging at the state of his nation. Following the last of these in 2018, not much has held the attention. Always Centered at Night has moments that do.

Those wanting energy and urgency should look elsewhere. This is mostly a downtempo selection, often forlorn, not immediate, each a collaboration with a singer, some voices familiar, others not. It's doleful, calm, opulent Balearic. Songs regularly plod by without registering, despite occasional vibe-spikes such as the Horsemeat Disco-at-3.00 AM roller “Should Sleep”, featuring JP Bimeni, or the drum & bass poetics of “Where is Your Pride?”, featuring the late Benjamin Zephaniah.

The flipside, and the reason the album is worth a cherry pick, is that there are moments when Moby hits the bullseye. These include the swampy, twangy blues of “Sweet Moon”, with vocals by American singer Choklate, the ominous doom-soul of “Transit”, with Sudanese singer Gaidaa, the melancholic ambient-ballad version of Cream’s “We’re Going Wrong”, with Brie O’Banion, and the closing piano shuffler, with José James, which is proper wee-hours jazz. Other voices include Brit poet Danaé Wellington, Jazz eccentric Lady Blackbird and New York LGBT soul maverick serpentwithfeet.

Moby just does what he fancies. Always has. Play’s mega-success was a mad fluke. What he’s fancied in recent years has been succumbing to lame orchestral vanity rejigs that all ageing successful musicians have to get out of their system at some stage. Fortunately, Always Centered at Night, while too sapless to fully hold the attention, contains a few pearls.

Below: Watch the video for "Where is Your Pride?" by Moby featuring Benjamin Zephaniah

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