Moby – Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt (Album Review)

Moby – Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt (Album Review)

Since releasing his first, self-titled album in 1992, the New York-hailing American singer-songwriter Moby has been prolific and consistent in expressing his musical ideas and exploring different facets of music – from Electronic Dance Music, to Alternative Rock, to Trip Hop, and to Ambient music – with his own solo releases, collaborative endeavors, as well as production side projects.

Moby has released fourteen albums under his name – from the 1992 debut to 2017’s More Fast Songs about the Apocalypse – and the followup is forthcoming. However, his last proper solo effort was 2013’s Innocents only because the last three were either a straight-out experimental ambient/instrumental music or done in collaboration with the collective called The Void Pacific Choir. For this, Moby’s new album is something that will take his listeners to a much more familiar place that has the Moby stamp on it.

Titled Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, Moby’s overall fifteenth effort is definitely back to the sonically adventurous artist’s trademark style, aural aesthetics, and lyrical themes considering. Yet, it also exudes echoes of his recent excursions. It will surely endear him even more to his fans and will make new and younger music enthusiasts rediscover him both in a fresh light and in a familiar perspective.

Scheduled for release on Friday, March 2, 2018 via Little Idiot/Mute Records, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt begins with the ominous, undulating, beat-driven, and sparse soundscape of “Mere Anarchy,” which eerily connects to “My Beautiful Blue Sky,” from Moby’s 1993 album, Ambient. Home, indeed. The waving pulses then meld into those of the ensuing “The Waste of Suns,” whose lingering little crystal bells and R&B-styled female background vocal plus the male narrator make it a desert-conjuring cinematic experience. Still in a similar plane of Electronica, “Like a Motherless Child,” however, exudes a subdued aura of Alternative Dance, recalling similar Electronic trips made in 1997 by U2 (“Discotheque”), Depeche Mode (“Barrel of a Gun”), and Jesus Jones (“The Next Big Thing”).

Moby then turns a bit more somber with the nervous heartbeats and slowly bursting bass thumps of “The Last of Goodbyes,” conjuring images of various changing shapes and faint colors under the water. Following next is a pair of piano-oriented moody, ambient ballads – “The Ceremony of Innocence” and “The Tired and the Hurt” – whose sparse instrumentation, soulful female vocals, subtle melodies, and mind-expanding effects will compel the initiated to revisit similar New Age songs by Enigma (“Return to Innocence”), Deep Forest (“Sweet Lullaby”), and Era (“Divano”). Then there is the upbeat, smoky, Rave-y dancefloor track “The Sorrow Tree,” quickening the heart rate to Trance levels.

A light moment of Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, “Falling Rain and Light” relaxes the mood as it takes the listener to the familiar terrains of Moby’s immaculate, porcelain balladry. Back to the overall filmic theme of the album, “The Middle Is Gone” is like a mind-numbing soundtrack to an abstract dream that keeps on alternately looping and travelling back in time till subatomic eternity. At this point, Moby’s Kurt Vonnegut reference is certainly subliminally enveloping the senses of every rooted listener. The penultimate track, “This Wild Darkness,” has that celebratory vibes that signal the nearness of the end. Finally, Moby concludes his latest conceptual musical indulgence with the slightly syncopated and decidedly choppy, jazzy swellings of “A Dark Cloud Is Coming” – such an apt unsettling and unresolved closer to a mind-perplexing new offering.

For a very prolific and proficient artist such as Moby, every accolade and appreciation that he earns is truly well-deserved. Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt is unarguably another worthy addition to his ever-elongating list of musical works that not only entertain but also challenge the senses. CrypticRock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt:

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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