The reflective electro-auteur is back on sublimely sure-footed form
Since the release of 1999′s multi-platinum, zeitgeist-defining Play, Moby has largely been on a trajectory of diminishing commercial returns. Innocents, his 11th studio album, may be the one to reverse that trend. Recorded entirely in his home studio, it shows the reflective electro-auteur is back on sublimely sure-footed form, balancing the euphoric glow of headphones techno at its most acute with the melancholic ache that has undercut all of his finest work. Where Play famously utilized samples of long-lost Delta blues and gospel alumni and Alan Lomax’s field recordings, this time Moby turns to contemporary leftfield figures for his nap hand of evocative other voices. Cult Canadian singer and songwriter Al Spx of Cold Specks lends simultaneously spectral and powerhouse vocals to lead-off single “A Case for Shame,” which could be Adele fronting Mazzy Star, and to “Tell Me.” The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne slyly insinuates himself among the choir-led cosmic gospel of “The Perfect Life,” a love pledge punctuated with the day-in-the-life confessions of a junkie peering from the blur of an opiate daze, while the ever-more guttural Mark Lanegan drawls like Lee Marvin enduring a long, dark night of the soul on “The Lonely Night.” Moby’s supreme achievement is to do to them what he did with the ancient, dust-laden voices on Play: weave them into his pulsing techno tapestry, vaporize them into ghosts in the machine of his sublime, atmospheric electro-reverie.