Moby – Reprise
David’s Music Pick- October 2021
If your middle name was Melville, because that other Melville, Herman, was your great, great, great uncle, and well, your father started calling you Moby when you were two years old and the name just stuck, it might seem natural that when you grew up to be an artist, you’d use Moby as your stage name. And if you grew up buying and listening to Deutsche Grammaphon records, it might seem natural that thirty years into your very successful career turning out Dance, Electronica, and Techno music, you’d eventually come back to the roots of the music you first fell in love with.
How would you come back? Well, after a conversation with a booker for the L.A. Philharmonic, wherein she asks if you’d be interested in performing your music as an orchestral set, and during that subsequent set’s performance a rep from Deutsche Grammophon approaches you backstage and suggests turning this whole orchestral reimagining of your music into an album, and that album coalesces with the Budapest Art Orchestra plus several special guests, including Gregory Porter, Mindy Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Alice Skye, Luna Li, Nataly Dawn, Apollo Jane, and others, you’d eventually end up with the album, “Reprise”. That’s how.
And, in the same way, that The Beatles music traveled the passages of time, eventually becoming part of the foundation of the ambient sounds of elevator music, Moby’s “Reprise” works better if it’s viewed less as an orchestral collection of his greatest hits and more as an evolutionary expression of his music. Just don’t expect this album to sound like elevator music- although it’s been a long while since I’ve been in an elevator, so maybe they’re playing reworked Techno/Dance/Electronica music in elevators now?
Anyway, Prior to the release of Reprise, I could safely say I wouldn’t have been able to recognize any of Moby’s compositions. That’s on me, as Moby is well celebrated, having sold over 20 million records, and he’s won multiple Grammy awards, as well as MTV and Teen choice awards, among others. But it wasn’t until I listened to a Rick Rubin interview that I became familiar with the broader body of Moby’s work. I gave Reprise a listen and was smitten. Whether you will love this or hate it may depend upon your fondness for Moby’s unadulterated earlier releases of his compositions, or not. Many of the online comments related to this album could be replaced with emojis of someone sleeping in a recliner, and still others with an angry old man emoji posted by those who danced for days on end at raves held in the clubs of NYC where Moby cut his teeth and find this reworking “sappy and monotonous”. Me? I missed the raves of the ’90s, so I’m missing the, “I remember hearing this when” bias. And, while I wouldn’t play this album to liven up a party, there are a few tracks that I would mark with a happy dancing emoji or at least an enthusiastically contented emoji. And maybe a snoozer or two. Go figure.
As always, YMMV, but check out the album on Qobuz or your favorite streaming service. Copies of the album are also widely available in a double album vinyl.