Moby’s heydays bookended the 1990s. In 1991, the New York native smooshed together post-punk, 80s disco and the Twin Peaks score into Go, a quintessential rave track that reached No 10 in the UK charts, something he celebrated with spasmodic dancing on Top of the Pops. In 1999, his album Play, which combined American roots and club beats into the kind of dinner party-friendly dance music middle England could really get behind, went six times platinum in the UK. Capturing the zeitgeist at both ends of a decade is no mean feat, and at 54, Moby seems more intent on reflecting on his success than repeating it – nowadays he makes headlines for cringeworthily candid memoirs about his unlikely superstardom rather than any new material.
Certainly, All Visible Objects, Moby’s 17th album, doesn’t feel like a punt for musical relevance. The first half dances between feverish house, dazed electronica, rave, techno and dub, the second comprises ambient and slightly po-faced pieces built from piano figures and synth washes. The overriding impression of both modes is nostalgia, not least for the uplifting, utopian properties of dance music. Moby finds some traction on the first count – there is vitality here, if not novelty – but the forays into politics aren’t so convincing. Power Is Taken, a hypnotic incitement to overthrow your oppressors recited by Dead Kennedys’ drummer DH Peligro, and Rise Up in Love, which muses on a similar subject, both feel misjudged. Perhaps it would have landed differently 20 years ago, but nowadays the uber-privileged using the voices of black musicians to deliver messages about subjugation seems bumblingly out-of-touch.