“Written while he was touring, “Destroyed” is “broken-down electronic music for empty cities at 2 a.m.,” he says, and indeed the music has an echoing, futuristic loneliness…They’re lonely images: deserted cities in the middle of the night, empty tunnels, an office building at 4 a.m. when the cleaning crew has turned on the fluorescent lights.”
// Joyce Wadler for NY Times - April 27, 2011
I love this piece irrationally & soaringly. It’s heartbreakingly depressing and that’s why. I used to love Moby like crazy. He was incredibly nice to my friends and me once or twice when we were just high school kids trying to hang on and get a sense of clubs and one time we clearly didnt have enough money and were drunk at Veselka after getting served at some nearby bar or club, and were bickering over who should call their parents to fix the mess he walked over and gave us $50 (he had no change which I thought was so cool) and talked for at least an hour about why we should keep journals and become vegan. like to the point of ridiculous fervor. but it was influential and 2 of the 4 of us have been at various stages of vegetarianism since — likely not just because of him but still, I cite it as a contributing factor. his blog too, which I used to obsessively read pre-twitter / myspace lifestreaming. & he’s stopped that lifestreaming largely, since then, adopting a lonelier and quieter lifestyle.
Fast forward several albums…18 also had the start of a truly unarticulated kind of sadness: capturing the mourning of 9/11 for NYC with the songs “Sunday Was a Bright Day” and “Sleep Alone” I felt, expanding onto other songs too like the ash in air. Moby’s birthday is 9/12 and his home was really close and he blogged about the shock and the air quality and the sadness in such an earnest way it made me ache. Going through my own awful mess uptown at the same time— of leaving high school early in my senior year, I think I craved the retro-catharsis that 18 provided years later by fossilizing the sadness around 9/11 in sound.
Since then, I’ve been wondering what he’s been up to. Everyone has.
So the new album? I give the music a 6 and the feeling he’s capturing a 10. I REALLY like the simple but brilliant site made for it, featuring a global map with his instagram shots & clips of visual storytelling. So I’ll try to repeat listen so maybe the sound might grow on me to match the sentiment. It themes (is that a verb because I want it to be) on something I’m passionately attached to and want to bottle but can’t: the cold, sad romantic shimmer of cities at night and impersonal hotels, abandoned movie theaters, and desolate subway platforms.
I haven’t toured the world like Moby has, but the business travel I have done gave me that feeling. It’s not all bad. There’s something I still love about having everything I need with me, feeling prepared for whatever and being nomadic. Of taking taxis to La Guardia Airport before the sun rises when it’s dusky and a bit misty. There’s a bit of Sofia Coppola magic in that: a mash up of Lost in Translation busy numbness and Virgin Suicides lush, aching nostalgia. These things can creep into your bones from a film or from a book. Bret Easton Ellis might describe it as “post-Empire” (he, unrelatedly has disappointed me in recent years in an equally heartbreaking way). William Gibson’s futuristic tales seep with the ache from every pore. By contrast, Douglas Coupland and Don DeLillo and even Augusten Burroughs all cast a certain retro-present cast on their work but breathe the same air.
Really, it’s a timeless thing: less zeitgeist and more a state of being. Beyond the article’s evocative albeit obvious imagery of flickering florescent lights in a hospital, the loneliness Moby’s work renders is everywhere. It’s inescapable and oppressive but not not-beautiful. It’s empty car dealerships with wavy mascots and screamingly upbeat baloons not getting attention. Disaster movies when everyone’s been killed so the streets of cities are covered in windblown newspapers from the day it all stopped. Gated communities with water features in their sculpted cul-de-sacs that import fish for ponds that are filled with blue-dyed chlorinated water. People sleeping in the airport hoping for a flight out when its snowed in. Satellites diligently clanging in cold space as they move via remote control. Shopping carts being blown around in parking lots at night.