Voodoo Child: Baby Monkey

Voodoo Child: Baby Monkey

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Voodoo Child

Album: Baby Monkey
Label: Mute

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Moby's standing role as a dance-music ambassador has been hard to square away for a while now, in no small part because neither of his two star-making albums trade on dance music much at all. Play and 18 both dabble in samples and beats, but neither delves deeply into the possibilities that electronic music allows. They're song records more than dance records, with earthy priorities distinct from rhythm, propulsion, and the ways that alien sounds can lead a listener elsewhere. Dusting off the Voodoo Child moniker he used in the mid-'90s, Moby makes an extremely literal return to his original techno-minded tack on his new Baby Monkey. Beats bump and skip, sirens wail, and divas whirl, but little on the album sounds mindful of anything other than early-'90s rave memories. "Gotta Be Loose In Your Mind" starts off with hissing metronome beats and a tight Italo-disco riff cooking alongside a rafter-bound vocal sample. The rest of the album follows similar floor-filling cues, stretching a scrim between menacing techno ("Minors") and the kind of flowery New Age swoon that Moby favors, for better and worse ("Light Is In Your Eyes"). All of it sounds more than adequate, but even the most rousing tracks–like "Unh Yeah," a great skip-along house banger with a glorious piano fill–sound curiously dated and detached. When he inches toward the current, Moby tips too close to listless trance. And when it sticks with the kind of choppy, anthemic techno he knows best, Baby Monkey sounds more like a nimble one-off than a meaningful return.

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