by Hobey Echlin
Once he was Americas rave-anthem king and now hes Americas, well, Fatboy Slim, leaning on old vocal samples read: public domain and therefore royalty-free to find his bluesy, big-beat sound here. Mobys MO is to fashion his tracks around vocal snippets from pre-blues warblers, going back to the dusty choruses of old 78s ("Why does my heart feel so bad?", etc.) to find his sample-enabled soul. There are brighter, if quieter, spots than the catchy but hardly noteworthy "Honey" single, but all of them follow a similar format. The epic ambient lilt of "Porcelain" finds the Mobester stepping up to the mic, but its the clipped-off sample voice singing "woman" that provides the hook. Thus inspired, but smart enough not to sing too much he uses sampled vocals for good reason he crafts a few of his own tech-blues explorations to round out the album. But when Moby breaks ranks with his sampler brethren and actually plays electric guitar, the results are flat; Santanalike solos over slow-building sample-funk tracks just dont add much to the mix. But to his credit, over Plays 18 cuts, Moby shows hes thinking in album-length arcs. And for all its simplicity from its random, simple drum sounds and good-time romps into techno-blues drag there is a likability, if not an almost-in-spite-of-itself profundity. Where Mobys earlier full-length efforts were the work of a kid with too many scattered, half-baked ideas, this is Moby the artist knowing his limitations, trying to find a meaning and resonance from other peoples music like a true great DJ. The only difference is that Mobys assembling not just beats, but a whole new kind of bluesy-soul moving among his soft-spoken beats.