SOUNDTRACK: MOBY-Everything is Wrong (1995).
I suppose that everyone knows that Moby (the musician) is Herman Melville’s great- great- great- grandnephew. And that’s why he has the middle name Melville and had the nickname Moby.
Moby started out as a techno guy. He even made the Guinness Book for the fastest bpm ever recorded (since then, many have surpassed that) with the song “Thousand.” It’s an interesting song, although more for its novelty than anything else. He also had a cool hit called “Go” that sampled music from Twin Peaks. And in 1999 he took over the world with his album Play, which featured some 18 songs that were all licensed for commercial use (many of which were ubiquitous that summer).
But this disc, Everything is Wrong, came out before Play, and it was considered a high water mark for dance music (before the next high water marks of Fatboy Slim and LCD Soundsystem came out, of course).
So this disc was hailed as the big breakthrough for Moby. And it has something for everyone. It opens with a pretty piano piece ala Philip Glass which is, as its name implies, a “Hymn.” From there we get a heavy techno beat and “Feeling So Real” kicks off. Gospel-like vocals soar above the dancing (this foreshadows Play quite a bit). It sounds very 1994 to me, although I don’t think it sounds dated, necessarily. And then comes his stab at punk. “All That I Need is to be Loved” is a fast blast of aggro music. The problem is that Moby doesn’t do punk very well. His guitars are too trebly, his vocals aren’t very strong and despite the beautiful melodies he creates, he doesn’t write very catchy hooks.
“Every Time You Touch Me” returns to the style of “Feeling So Real” and is another stellar dance track. While “Bring Back My Happiness” runs even faster.
“What Love” is another screaming punk track. This one is closer to Ministry. It’s quite a slap in the face after the rest of the disc.
“First Cool Hive” slows things down with a groovy almost ambient track. And “Into the Blue” is a moody song that sounds like it could also have been taken from Twin Peaks.
“Anthem” returns to the fast beats with ecstatic moans sprinkled over the faster and faster beat.
The album ends with two tracks, “God Moving Over the Face of the World” which is a beautiful instrumental (again ala Philip Glass or more likely Michael Nyman) that weaves in and around itself for 7 minutes. (It, too, hints of Twin Peaks). And, “When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die,” while not exactly uplifting is coldly beautiful (kind of like a long lost Eurhythmics track)..
The disc is such a mishmash of styles, that it’s hard to really know what to classify it as. Some of it works wonders. Other tracks (notably the punk experiments) are less successful (even though I did enjoy them then, I think they just didn’t age well…or maybe I didn’t age well). Of course, over the course of his career, Moby has attempted all of these genres in more detail, so this was almost like a sampler of what he would be doing later.
Sixteen years later it holds up quite well (although I still think Play is better).
[READ: Week of June 7, 2010] Moby-Dick [Chapters 42-61]
The reading this week opens with a chapter about whiteness. And how somehow Moby-Dick is even more fearsome for being white. As the chapter opens whiteness (even in skin color) is lauded. But by the end, he cites it as being particularly creepy: white whales, polar bears, albinos. (I think that this was my very least favorite chapter so far–I was uncomfortable reading it and I didn’t get a lot of humor from it either).
Some more down time passes, with Ishmael describing how Ahab is able to plot a course to find Moby-Dick. It’s not just looking for a needle in an ocean–there are pathways that whales follow, for instance. This is followed by a chapter that allows Ishmael to swear, absolutely swear! that whalers can recognize the same whale even years later if you tried to kill it but failed (and that he himself remembers one whale that got away from a mole under its eye). (more…)