Moby, “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt” (Mute)
Moby is done screaming. He’s back to brooding — magnificently.
The musician-producer’s 12-track “Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt” returns us to the orchestral trip-hop he’s famous for following two politically-charged albums of virtual punk.
The album signals he’s post-anger, as if he’s entered a stage of profound grief. Many songs offer a fragile and melancholy Moby whispering about human fragility over velvet swells of ambient, orchestral sounds punctuated by drum loops.
The titles alone seem to suggest we’re in for a bleak affair — “The Sorrow Tree,” “A Dark Cloud Is Coming,” “The Last of Goodbyes” and “The Tired and The Hurt” — but the music is gorgeously gloomy without being depressing. That’s hard to do on an album that mentions darkness 15 times.
For the past few years, Moby raged against Donald Trump in “More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse” and “These Systems are Failing.” Now he’s turned his attention at our souls, referencing W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming” and borrowing the new album’s name from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five.”
He’s added female voices for every song, including five with Mindy Jones, two with Julie Mintz and three with Apollo Jane. They soar while Moby stays grounded and morose. “I can’t see, I can’t speak, I can’t walk, I can’t talk/But I can see how it’s falling apart,” he half sings in one song.
The album starts out strong with the driving “Mere Anarchy” and the coolly funky “The Waste of Suns” before hitting a peak with a spacy reworking of the spiritual “Like a Motherless Child.”
Randy Bachman, “By George — By Bachman” (UMe)
Randy Bachman, founder of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, let’s his imagination run away with 11 George Harrison songs on “By George — By Bachman,” which mostly succeeds when respecting the Quiet Beatle’s melodies, but sometimes fails to capture the grace and elegance of the originals.
“If I Needed Someone” has a jazzy feel, with a George Benson-like solo while there’s a flamenco-ish rhythm on “You Like Me Too Much.” “I Need You” gets a power-pop rebuild and “Don’t Bother Me” rocks out even further, like something from the Smithereens’ catalog. On these and a few others, the original tunes are more or less intact and they’re sturdy enough to support the makeovers. (AP)
“Something,” however, is a supple love song meant to be about “the way she moves,” not the way she plods, and even some hot guitar solos can’t change that. On “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” the instrument and the song seem way past the soft cries and closer to a complete nervous breakdown. Oh well.
The album opens and closes with Bachman’s “Between Two Mountains,” a tribute where Lennon and McCartney are the peaks overshadowing Harrison, whose patience pays off and his time to shine finally comes. All true, as Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” from 1970 shines as brightly as any Beatle solo album.
But “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” were great songs of his already from his time in The Fab Four and, as he later famously sang with The Traveling Wilburys, they should be handled with care. (AP)
By Mark Kenney