Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
Books
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
NAJP Blog
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell
CG Search:
Google Search:
The skinny little Christian-vegan punk-turned-DJ who bills himself Moby has been techno's leading crossover candidate for so long that he's outlasted the techno concept itself, which has been folded back into "dance music" again. This Moby foresaw back when he covered Hendrix and Lynyrd Skynyrd at Lollapalooza in 1995, and none of his albums has catered to purists. Symphonic and hardcore, soulful and avant-arty, they've been brilliant messes. But while Play (V2) is no more focused, it moves like a living thing whether it's sampling field-recorded blues and gospel from the Alan Lomax archive or deploying Moby's screamed or spoken vocals over electronic funk or string synths or rock guitar or all three--all played by Moby, of course. Dance hits being mostly pop fluff these days, he'll have to wait till next time for one of those. But Play is one of those records whose drive to beauty should move anybody who just likes, well, music itself.

A less auspicious techno crossover is the Chemical Brothers' Surrender (Astralwerks), in which the prophets of so-called Big Beat retreat from their riff-heavy posture into an amalgam more pop on the one hand and more electro on the other--the kind of effort the phrase "neither here nor there" was invented to pigeonhole.


I'm always suspicious of non-Africans meddling in African pop, but former Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid has surely put a charge into Salif Keita's Papa (Metro Blue), which he coproduced. Never since he got off the dance circuit has the renowned Malian vocalist proceeded so single-mindedly from point A to point B.

Playboy, June 1999


May 1999 July 1999