Moby – Hotel

Moby’s latest, Hotel, is a two cd set that delivers some of the most intimate work that he’s ever done.

For Moby, the idea of a hotel room is a metaphor for life. Everything happens in a hotel room – business, family life, all types of intimate relations – yet as soon as we leave, all traces of our presence is wiped clean.

The first CD is a mix of songs sung by Moby and Laura Dawn. Laura Dawn is the Event and Cultural Director for moveOn.org and the moveOnPAC, and a killer vocalist to boot. The second CD is a collection of ambient pieces.

We picked Hotel up for $13.00 at Borders (V2 Records – get Synthtopia on your review list!). The dual-CD set delivers a lot of music for that price.

CD1 is different than Moby’s most popular work, Play, and more recent 18. After listening to Hotel, 18 sounds like a transition from the techno-tradition of Play and the song-oriented indie sound of the new CD. The focus in many of the tracks is on Moby’s singing. While he’s a competent vocalist, he’s not compelling, often coming across as earnest, but not passionate. 

Unfortunately, songs like Beautiful highlight Moby’s weaknesses. His lyrics here are weak: “ Look at us, were beautiful, All the people push and pull, But let’s just go out and ride, Talk about the things we try.” Lyrics like that need someone to sing the hell out of them to make them convincing, and Moby’s delivery doesn’t do the trick.

Laura Dawn contributes vocals to several tracks, though, and she’s someone to keep an eye on. Two of her tracks, Very and I like it, give her something to work with, and Dawn makes the most of the opportunity.

Very is a disco scorcher that harkens back to the Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer classic I Feel Love. Dawn proves herself to be a world-class electronica superfreak as she burns through hypnotic lyrics like “ How we will make it, Just you, you and me. Soon we’ll take it, Just you, you and me.” Lyrics like that don’t quite qualify as double-entendres, but we’ll give them an entendre and a half.

Somewhere between Very and I like it, the CD must have reached its climax, because I like it has Dawn cooing, in a sort of paean to post-coital bliss, “Did I say I liked it?” over a throbbing bassline. Yeah – she did like it, she liked it a lot!

Unfortunately, none of the other songs make as strong as an impression as the CD’s centerpieces.

The songs on the new CD leave behind the sample-based style of Play. There’s a lot more variety here. While this provides an interesting view of Moby’s talents and ideas, it’s ultimately a less-satisfying listen because of the way it bounces from style to style.

The second CD is an ambient CD. Make sure that you get the version of Hotel that comes with the second CD. For many electronica fans, it will be the more satisfying of the two discs. The style is consistent throughout, making it a great background CD.

Moby’s ambient tracks tend to have a hymn-like or elegiac quality. They don’t have the edge of the ambient work of artists like Brian Eno or Steve Roach. This makes Moby’s ambient tracks pleasant background music, and very accessible, but less daring.

Overall, Hotel seems to capture a broad picture of Moby’s talent, warts and all. There’s a lot to like on the CDs. While CD1 has some scorching highlights, CD2 is more consistent and is more likely to be played straight through.

Fans of techno/electronica may just want to get the singles from Hotel. Ambient fans should make sure that they get the two-CD set. Fans of all of Moby’s diverse work will find a wealth of new music to listen to on Hotel.

One warning – this is one of those mixed use CDs that starts a little program every time you insert it into your computer. Note to record labels – when people put a music CD into a computer, they want to listen to music!

Tracks:

  • Hotel Intro
  • Raining Again
  • Beautiful
  • Lift Me Up
  • Where You End
  • Temptation
  • Spiders
  • Dream About Me
  • Very
  • I Like It
  • Love Should
  • Slipping Away
  • Forever
  • 14. Homeward Angel

Leave a Reply