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  Moby - Hotel
Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5 Rating: 4 out of 5
by Russ Marshalek

Moby has always been one of the most self-absorbed names in electronic music. His vast and varied output from the past decade or so stands as tribute to the little bald guy who is, at his core, pretty much always thinking of himself. Veering from the hard-core punk of Animal Rights (because it's what he wanted to do) to the early spaced-out ambiance of Ambient (because it's what he was feeling at the time), a Moby album has long been a study of musical genres and forms compiled into twelve-or-so tracks. His first true masterpiece, Everything Is Wrong, shows off his loves in hard house, punk, house and ambient, just to name a few easy-to-fingerpoint genres.

Then there was Play, the album that brought him to the masses. Gorgeous in small amounts, and body-moving all around, Play found Moby utilizing classic spiritual song samples to emote the way his own voice used to. And he found an audience in the world at large... and betrayed them with 18, Play's followup that, essentially, took the cookie cutter from the first to hack out the second. In between the two, he became a star.

As such, the subtlety at the start of Hotel is disarming in the same way it's refreshing, as it's something we haven't heard from the little bald man in years. And when "Raining Again" starts, the second big wave of relief comes: Moby's singing again. Having always possessed a touching-if-flawed voice, Moby anchors the majority of these songs in his own just-under-the-surface yearning. The rockers on here ("Raining Again," "Spiders," and "Beautiful") are reminiscent of what made 18's best song, "We Are All Made Of Stars," so good: simple melodies, powerful and stirring choruses, and Moby's awesome guitar work.

The songs on Hotel hit on a much deeper level than anyone new to Moby's work may expect. The slow-burning "Where You End" finds some of his best song writing in memory, with the line "I thought I fell in love the other day/with an old friend of mine/I was running kisses down every inch of her spine/we had the roof down/the sun came shining in/but the black fact is/I was thinking of you" sticking in the throat and in the heart long after the song ends. The album's standout track, "Lift Me Up," ranks among his best dancefloor works. With a steady four-to-the-floor house beat anchoring awesome synth work and backup diva vocals straight from "Feelin' So Real," Moby takes the nonbelievers he lost in the past few years back to church. Rave church.

And it's the rave that Moby seems to have rediscovered with Hotel, along with... himself. By removing sampled vocals in favor of his own, and by narrowing his focus back from attempts at worldly statement to the topic of his own heart, the sheer joy of music that always seemed to inhabit him has once again become evident. And with the indie instrumentation at a hardcore bpm rate of the album's "rock" tracks, Moby's is nodding back to the dance music kids that have kept the fire burning in their hearts despite the cries of "sellout." When the soft, pretty, two-beat synth and female vocal cover of New Order's "Temptation" wraps itself around a warm night, it'll be tough for anyone who's ever been touched by the sheer, simple beauty of Moby's music to remain jaded. Hotel isn't a groundbreaking work from Moby; it's just a return to the form that we remember him in... and that, in and of itself, is fantastic.

At Amazon.com

Hotel from Amazon.com Hotel
by Moby

Tracks:

  1. Hotel Intro
  2. Raining Again
  3. Beautiful
  4. Lift Me Up
  5. Where You End
  6. Temptation
  7. Spiders
  8. Dream About Me
  9. Very
  10. I Like It
  11. Love Should
  12. Slipping Away
  13. Forever
  14. Homeward Angel

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