Album of the week
Stepping from behind the electronica curtain with his double-platinum 1999 album Play, technowizard Moby put a mopey face on a genre that hadn't made a blip on the pop charts. Despite that breakthrough, the cool ambient sounds on Moby's 18 (the number of tracks on the CD) are still an acquired taste. This is beat-heady music for the sophisticated listener. Creating soundscapes that are more for chilling out than raving, with instrumentation that he played and programmed, Moby induces one long, intoxicating trance.
Hardly a great singer, Moby supplies vocals on a mere four songs here, but the melancholy-Everyman quality-of his thin voice works to surprisingly good effect on tunes such as the Bowie-esque "We Are All Made of Stars." As he did on Play, he uses gospel singers to bring a human warmth to the synth party on some numbers, while deftly employing guest vocalists such as a celestial Sinéad O'Connor to sprinkle fairy dust on others. All of which doesn't take away from the album's cohesiveness, though. While some tracks might not stand out individually, they are stronger when taken as 1/18 of the whole.
Bottom Line: Enthralling electronica