16 June, 2009

Alone in the universe

With the first melodic chords of "Division" - the introductory song to Moby's latest release, Wait for Me - I heard sounds both eerily familiar, comfortable even, and strikingly of the moment. I suppose these characteristics are not mutually exclusive: comfort and present mindedness can exist on the same plane spiritually, so why not musically? Still, what I hear in this new album is a lovingly crafted melding of sounds with the genius of a symphony.

Like a symphony, this album requires attentiveness and an application of time that allows the music fan to listen to it in its entirety. Although each "song" is a gem on its own, their individual beauty is magnified when the album is played whole. In the age of singles flying out of the cash machines of pop music, this is an anachronistic album that revisits the age of rock operas and progressive themed albums.

While listening to Wait for Me for the first time, I found myself thinking that it was an album deserving of its own movie - a movie written and shot to emphasize the fact that there is a story being told in this music. The second time around, I rethought my position: this music does not require a visual counterpart, although that would add a different kind of depth to the process of listening. Instead, this album deserves focus and attentive listening. It is a Dark Side of the Moon for 2009, embracing the enormity and loneliness of life with melodic echoes off cave walls, and metaphorical odes to dying stars. There is something here that captures warped and fragmentary glimpses of reality, almost as if Moby was recording and writing in a kind of audio carnival mirror. As you listen, you begin to discover more things about the album. It has a tendency to strike a balance between an immensely calming tone, almost to the point of dull numbness and apathy, followed by points of ecstasy that tumble out of lines of growing anxiety. It takes an artist to achieve such emotional highs and lows with music that is the epitome of a velvet hammer, and after listening to Wait for Me I am convinced that Moby is just that kind of artist.

Listen to Wait for Me in its entirety @ NPR - All Songs Considered: Wait for Me - Moby

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