The Spinners

Go—The Very Best of Moby (Moby, 2006)

In American, Compilation, Dance, Dodo Dayao, Electronica, Techno on January 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

Never mind the career overview bollocks. Single-record Best Ofs—Ok, the import has 16 tracks and a remix bonus disc, we get 15 tracks and no bonus disc but this is the Philippines, what’d you expect?—smack of cash-in.  A no-brainer, that. This is techno’s poster boy of sellout. Yeah yeah, the cross-purposes between art and commerce have long ceasefired and nearly everyone sells out, cashes in. So why hang the DJ? Moby did it mega than most is why. But let’s be fair here. We go back, me and this born-again crusading straightedge showbiz geek vegan purveyor of melancholic techno.  Him meshing spooked-up Twin Peaks strings with electro-throb on Go (still his finest four minutes) was, barring primordial New Order, my unofficial indoctrination into electronica per se and the record that came after, Everything Is Wrong, my first time to forage blind in unknown—and, in theory, forbidden, for the rockist prude I used to be—territory since someone fed me the Residents’ Eskimo without qualifiers. Him finding Jesus literalized the rave/church parallels all those techno-drug tropes were hinting at, eventually making the Gospel Vs. BPMs of Play somehow both wondrous and trite. And his upfront, fiercely idealistic activism had the headbutt you want from activism. You could say half of  Go—The Very Best of Moby is the falling from grace, the way it pays mere lip service to the stellar Everything Is Wrong, wisely sidestepping the career kamikaze of Animal Rights, but bearing out the pedestrian self-cannibalizing  of 18 and Hotel—the sound of turntablist ingenuity outing itself as one-dimensional popcraft. Unfair to dis him on that, though, as half the alt-rock/dance brethren of his time trafficked in fluff more throwaway than his. Least Moby’s had a sense of its own fleeting quality, its uselessness. And had its moments—“Move” is nearly sublime, “Feeling So Real” pumped-up and full-on, We Are All Made of Stars” secondhand Enopop that holds up, “In My Heart” derivative but pretty, and new track with Debbie Harry superstar walk-on “New York New York”: pointless but fun trash-glam wankery.  It’s actually the other half of the Go tracklist, spewing forth from his tasty but overexposed Play, previously and rampantly whored out to sell everything from SUVs to Leonardo DiCaprio, that plays more like a fall from grace. The pitfalls of underestimating advertising and its power to deteriorate and supersede whatever empathies pop music forges  in you,  to trivialize it into no-context fuzak, to make it nearly unlistenable as anything but an elegy to that ruinous point of no return when a song that once took you to the river now just reminds you to upgrade your cellphone.

Dodo Dayao

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