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Moby revisits his dancing days
Source: canoe.ca
Posted on: April 20, 2008 05:26 MST
Filed under: Pop, Electronic


TORONTO -- With hotel rates that can easily creep over the $1,000-a-night mark, electro-pop wunderkind Moby knows not everyone can see New York City the way he does. So the singer-songwriter is offering listeners the next best thing - "Last Night."

Culled from a 28-year-long excursion through New York's club scene, the new album distills an eight hour night into 65 minutes.

"It came down to a choice between doing a very quiet, introspective, personal record, or a dance album that felt like a night out in my neighbourhood," he says, taking a break from perusing the vinyl at MOOG Audio on Queen West.

In the end he went with the dance album. "I thought it'd be fun to make a record that was more of a social, gregarious experience."

After the moody electronica of 2002's "18" and the mellowed vocals of 2005's "Hotel," it's a return of sorts to the signature dance sound he helped invent following 1999's radio-friendly smash, "Play."

Conceptually structured to mimic an all-night party in Lower Manhattan, "Last Night" opens with the sparse pop energy of "Ooh Yeah," continues with the milky groove of "I Love to Move in Here" (featuring Grandmaster Caz) and the '90s techno blast, "Everyday it's 1989," before drenching listeners in the melancholic "Hyenas" and torch-song spook of "Degenerates."

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"A night out does have a narrative arc, and almost every night out has the same narrative arc, unless you're doing the weirdest drugs on the planet," he says. "Usually it starts sort of innocent and then it gets celebratory and then it gets darker and a little introspective.

"I just wanted to recreate those narrative points."

That included excusing himself from performing vocal duty on the disc's 14 tracks. "I enjoy singing, but I'm under no illusions," he smiles. "I don't expect to win any awards as a vocalist."

Shifting in his seat as the Germanic beeps and beats of Siriusmo start pulsating through the store, he continues. "Especially making a dance record, I wanted to have cool, interesting, beautiful vocals and I knew my voice is just too limited to sing these songs."

But instead of rounding up a who's-who of today's chart toppers, Moby chose to tap the little-known talent of some of his friends. "There is a long tradition in electronic music of DJs and producers working with superstars, but I didn't want to go down that route."

On "Hyenas," he teams with expatriate Algerian, Nabila Benladehem, whom he first heard channeling James Brown in a karaoke bar, while underground British MC's Aynzli and 419 Crew provide a menacing rap on "Alice." And by the time everything "gets quiet and calm" for the disc's self-titled closing number, Sylvia Gordon's dreamy vocals are left to float amongst echoey manipulations.

"If you work with superstars, you have to buy plane tickets for them and get them hotels and deal with their managers and lawyers," he exasperates. "When you make a record with your friends, they come over and you work on music, you make spaghetti and go out to a movie.

"It's just a lot more fun."

Speaking of fun, Moby is having a ball letting his friends shoot videos for some of the songs. The heavily synthesized house throwback "Disco Lies" conjured eccentric imagery from Evan Bernard. "Evan," he grins, "he had this idea for a seven-foot tall pimp chicken chasing Colonel Sanders through the streets of Mexico City and then butchering him.

"For 'Alice' I told (Swedish director) Andreas (Nilsson) he could do whatever he wanted; my only suggestion was that people see a lot of things exploding. So, if you watch the video, there's a lot of things exploding and, um, monsters."

As a gaggle of shoppers sift through records in the next aisle, Moby lets slip that he has unconventional tour plans to promote the album. "Living on a tour bus and waking up in parking lots for 18 months?" he says, raising an eyebrow. "I really hate that. I might do some live touring, but it will be very sporadic."

Instead, he'll host a series of one-off DJ nights and let loose his inner party animal.

"Well," he says, letting out a deep exhale, "party animal implies a complete lack of control. When I hear 'party animal' I picture kids on Spring Break doing jello shots and passing out naked in the parking lot.

"I'm older now, so my liver and my brain and my body can't handle the debauchery it could a decade ago."

Then what do you call a 42-year-old whose idea of a perfect evening starts with an innocent dinner amongst friends and ends at 7 a.m. smack dab in the arms of a beautiful woman? "An adult hedonist," he says.

"Last Night" is in stores now.

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