Friday, May 27, 2011
Moby - Destroyed
Continuing down the post-punk realm that was so prevalent on Wait For Me, Moby returns with his ninth studio album-a fifteen-song collection composed and recorded during bouts of insomnia while touring behind his last album.
It is a novel idea on paper, but think for a moment at how productive you feel under the tortuous state of sleep deprivation. I can personally attest to staring at the glare of this laptop, trying in vain to come up with one final paragraph, or worse, thinking more minutes on end for some clever adjective that is seemingly on the tip of your tongue.
During those moments when I have actually felt that I defeated insomnia’s barrier to my own creativity, I come back to the results after a good rest only to find an incoherent jumble of poorly structured words, repeated ideas and bits of nonsense. Whatever “progress” that I made during those moments of wandering attention and heavy eyelids are almost immediately erased, as they provide no real service to me under the clear glow of a new day.
With Destroyed, I wonder if Moby returned to his laptop after waking up, giving his late night musical exploits a fresh ear. Then I wonder if Moby is strong enough to hit the delete button, or at least consider the fact that maybe the entire thing needs to be gutted and brought back to the drawing board after warming up a fresh pot of coffee.
Destroyed is not as glossy as its predecessor Wait For Me, which makes the feeble attempt at channeling the British post-punk and new wave touch points of his youth a pointless endeavor.
The closest it gets is “After,” which sounds like a life of Eurythmics’ “Greetings From A Dead Man,” a (mostly) instrumental gem from their criminally overlooked soundtrack to 1984, a mid-80’s interpretation of the Orwell classic.
“Sounds like,” that is, until Moby chimes in with his limited range voice-an abrupt buzzkill when you’re channeling a dream that Annie Lennox will complete the nostalgic nod.
Thankfully, Moby restricts his own vocal contributions, occasionally allowing them to be manipulated with a half-broken Korg vocoder and letting the bulk of the vocals handled by female guests. The talents he’s chosen for collaborations are fine by all accounts, but getting back to the Lennox references for a moment: Destroyed could have really been something with a few guest spots with some actual ties to the era he seems to be favoring as of late. What is Allison Moyet doing lately? Hell, I’d even take a song featuring the vocals from the dude from Bronski Beat.
The irony with Destroyed is that its ultimate selling point would be that it’s a damn fine record to fall asleep to, and as smug as that may seem to be, it’s the most positive thing that I can say about the fifteen songs that move at a somnambulist pace for well over an hour.
There are moments of beauty-“Stella Maris” is a heart-wringing ballad with haunting backing vocals by Annie Maria Friman-but the vast majority of this record is forgettable and uninspired.
Destroyed also is tied in with Moby’s upcoming photography book by the same name, and judging by the photos included with the cd version of the release, it’s clear where Moby put the majority of creative talents. They are stunning, and the cover to Destroyed-the tail end of a security warning at LaGuardia airport (“Unattended baggage will be destroyed.”) marks the quick eye of very good photographer. If similar focus-an oxymoron given the conditions of these recordings, I know-were provided to the music, this record could have ended up becoming a major event.
Instead, like many other Moby titles before, it falls flat.
He calls his late night activities “repurposing insomnia,” but after hearing Destroyed, you will know it by its more common name: sleepwalking.