In this breakneck, cluttered 21st Century, surviving musicians from the music industry excess of the 1980s and ‘90s have had to roll with web-savvy audiences dictating trends and word-of-mouth social buzz. Richard Melville Hall (Moby for short) is a talented, moody and awkward fellow who has embraced the new wave of music consumption.
At his commercial height of the late ‘90s, Moby re-invented radio-friendly dance music, producing techno-pop hybrids which found themselves a home in commercials and on coffee tables across the globe. More than a decade on, he has swerved a major label contract and created his own platform (Little Idiot) and befriended director David Lynch for a filmic collaboration on lead album track ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’. ‘Wait For Me’ is Moby gone DIY, melding bedroom recordings with producer Ken Thomas (Sigur Rós, Maps) by his side. Away from label interference, the album shows glimpses of his best work since those heady nights of headlining Glastonbury and a clash with a certain po-faced rapper (Emimen got a verbal bashing in 2001, with Moby arguably coming off worse).
In his album statement Moby pleads with listeners to absorb the record all the way through, “at least once”. He’s done himself a disservice as the record flows well, with Twin Peaks-inspired mood pieces (‘A Seated Night’ and ‘Isolate’ are standouts) puncturing vocal tracks delivered by unknown singers from his New York City neighbourhood.
Early on, we find ‘Pale Horses’ revisiting former glories, but with strong results – a lonesome female vocal laments lost freedom and loved ones over steady street beats and wonky synth moans, and ‘Shot In The Back Of The Head’ is a moody instrumental pitched somewhere between Lynch’s horror-classic Eraserhead and the first Godfather movie. In accordance with the anti-commercial rhetoric spun in the press release, most songs here would sound out of place on Moby’s million-selling albums ‘Play’ or ‘18’.
There are strong moments, though. ‘Walk With Me’ is percussive, electronic gospel, while the early ‘80s Manchester-noir of ‘Mistake’ eerily imagines Ian Curtis pleading from the grave: “Please, don’t let me make the same mistake again” read the lyrics. Elsewhere, ‘Wait For Me’ sounds like Massive Attack at their haunting, hopping best, and closer ‘Isolate’ imagines Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada playing ambient on downers.
The exclusive use of analogue equipment gives the record a nostalgic glow, and while ‘Wait For Me’ may ooze gloom, it seems its author is finally happy with his artistic results.