“Innocents” by Moby

More than twenty years after he first started making waves in the music industry, small bespectacled producer Moby still stands an unexpectedly formidable creative force in electronic music on his latest studio album, Innocents.

From the serene, swirling beginning of the album, “Everything that Rises,” it is clear that this release is more of the same long-form ambient music that has brought Moby success in the past. Moby is known for experimenting with specific sound samples, and a unique aspect of the album is how heavily it delves into the realm of gospel and soul. This is especially interesting in the context of Moby’s devotion to his religion, a matter he has discussed in the light of the media. It is always interesting when an album serves as such a clear reflection of the artist’s life, and these personal influences that are drawn into the album make it a more accessible listen than other techno music.

The soul sound on this album is derived mainly from the collaborations, most obviously from the extensive work of singer/songwriter Cold Specks. Cold Speck’s haunting vocals on songs “A Case for Shame” and “Tell Me” set a deep, gloomy tone that pervades through most of the album. Cold Specks’ up-and-coming talent soulful folk singer with gothic tendencies lends itself well to the darker electronic sound Moby plays with on Innocents. One can hear her distinctive gospel croon placed throughout the album even on the songs she is not directly featured, and it is evident Moby, whose music is based much of finding unbeaten musical paths, wanted to tap into the interesting genre of modern Goth-soul that Cold Specks is pioneering.

Arguable the greatest downfall of the album is there is not much differentiation between songs, and at times the full, sprawling way the album is constructed is a bit dense. Some of the songs do not stand out from each other nor do they stand alone separate from the album as an entire entity. While beautiful, songs such as “Going Wrong” lack something without the interesting vocals featured on other songs and end up somewhat unmemorable.

For the most part, however, the album is interesting and more diverse than is often expected from electronica music, which has a reputation for being impersonal and endless. The greatest victory of the album is arguably the single, “The Perfect Life.” Enlisting Wayne Coyne, the distinguished, whimsical front man of The Flaming Lips, the song delivers a much-needed change of pace on the album. Coyne and Moby have been friends since the early nineties when both acts began to accrue their respective fan bases, and when Moby proposed the song to Coyne it was to be expected that the Flaming Lips singer did not hesitate to take hold of the project. The result is a bizarre mash-up of Moby’s electronic styling, more gospel sampling, and instrumentation much like that of a Flaming Lips song– yet in all comes together to create an emotional and grand anthem.

Moby has always challenged the genre of electronic music, pushing the boundaries and adding in non-conventional elements. On Innocents, he has intertwined the organ-heavy soulful sounds of gospel music with his eccentric electronic musical style, creating a melancholy album that is an interesting step for an artist who has already gone in so many interesting directions.

By Mary Kate McGrath

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