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Moby goes sample-soft

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Much like Clark Kent, behind Mobys glasses lurks a - sonic Superman.
  • Much like Clark Kent, behind Mobys glasses lurks a sonic Superman.

In 1997, Moby released Animal Rights, an album that alienated a large chunk of his fan base.

Known up to then primarily as a techno artist and one of the best in the genre at that Moby shocked fans with a loud punk-infused rock album. His audience responded by making Animal Rights the worst selling record of his career.

If it were entirely up to Moby, the music he'd put on an album now might be even more jarring.

"If I was just making music for myself, I would be making the strangest music and no one would probably want to listen to it," Moby says. "Like the music I listen to at home, I listen to a lot of really quiet, romantic ballads. I also listen to a lot of Pantera. And I listen to a lot of really weird electronic music. So if I was just making records for myself, it would be a combination of those three elements."

The Animal Rights experience, though, made Moby realize he can't make records in a vacuum at least not without putting his popularity in significant jeopardy.

"It was after that that I realized I didn't want to make records that innately alienated people," he says. "So my ethos since then has been to try and, I don't know, make music that people can find a place for in their lives. And that does mean sort of like softening some of the rough edges. It means not playing 160-beats-per-minute techno tracks. It means not playing big over-the-top punk rock songs. But I feel like if I'm going to work hard on a record, I should try and do all that I can to end up with something that people can actually, as I said, find a place for in their lives."

Consequently the last few Moby discs have been a bit more stylistically predictable. Fortunately, Moby has retained enough of his sense of adventure to keep them from being bland or boring. In fact, his new CD, Hotel, suggests that he might have settled into a bit of a stylistic groove

The biggest shift and this is more of a progression than a departure is toward more of a pop/rock flavored sound. Songs like the spunky first single "Beautiful" and "Raining Again" show that Moby has nearly as strong a talent for writing tightly crafted, hooky songs as he does for laying down intoxicating beats.

What's notably different, though, is the absence of sampled vocals, which had been a signature element of Moby's sound throughout his career. Instead, Moby sings on many of the tracks and is occasionally joined by vocalist Laura Dawn.

Moby, who said he wrote some 200 songs in the two years leading up to Hotel, said he did use samples in a lot of the songs he chose not to put on the CD.

"I just didn't like them as much as the ones that didn't have samples," Moby says. "So it wasn't like a concerted effort to move away from using samples. It was more, I like singing, and the songs with the live vocals just spoke to me more than the songs that had samples."

The more organic sound of Hotel should help the songs translate well in a live environment especially since Moby will have a six-piece band to help him bring his songs to life on his spring tour of the United States. Don't miss his Colorado stop at Boulder's Fox Theatre.

--Alan Sculley

capsule

Moby with guest Charlie Mars

Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder

Saturday, April 30, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $31.50.

Check www.kbco for info.

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