Moby Gets Playful

Like recent Chemical Brothers and Fat Boy Slim hits, the more memorable songs on Moby‘s Play (V2/JBO) are built around snippets of black voices, in this case blues singers. Brief bits of yodels and catch phrases repeat until each rasp becomes part of the computerized rhythm track. The neat contrivance would be of less consequence if Moby’s contribution to those tracks — piano glissandos and synth flourishes — weren’t so reminiscent of lowbrow romantic John Tesh. The emotional gap between Moby’s keyboards and the vocals they support is bewildering. Certainly, the voices he selected are transcendent, but that was the case even before they entered his hard drive. Elsewhere on the record, Moby lends his own self-consciously antiseptic voice to the potential hit, “South Side,” and cranks out his contribution to big beat, “Bodyrock,” complete with — you guessed it — a central rap sample. “Oh Lordy … don’t nobody know my troubles,” sings a woman on “Natural Blues.” For all Moby’s emerging tunefulness, Play would fail to convince her otherwise.

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