Play it

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Writing a review for an album already plauded by critics worldwide is pretty useless. Well, reviews are pretty useless if you think long and hard about it — which this one won’t.

(And just why did it take me until now to even acquire the album? I received it as a birthday gift ‘cos I was too busy getting back into J-pop.)

But so Moby? Play? Grammy-award winner? Topped the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critic’s Poll?

Why all the fuss?

If you saw that DLJ Direct commercial without that floating greater-than sign (>) and wondered how a dot-com commercial could score such cool music, rest assured — it’s cribbed from Moby, it wasn’t written expressly for DLJ Direct.

(Speaking of commericals, anyone think that Björk-like “iPaq” commercial from Compaq is kind of, um, dumb? Never mind.)

The crux of the album lies in Moby’s comandeering of Delta blues and gospels, recontextualizing them in an electronic dance setting. It’s sounds like an insurmountable goal, but Moby pulls it off.

He’s also got some radio-friendly tracks, such as the already-hit “Bodyrock” and the aforementioned DLJ theme “Porcelain.” If anything, Play distinguishes itself from other electronic dance music albums by being song-driven. These tracks aren’t just beat, beat and more beat.

Perhaps the most striking element of Moby’s blues-meets-dancefloor aesthetic is how he’s kept the samples relatively untouched. Unlike Ben Watt screwing around with Tracey Thorn’s vocals on Temperamental, Moby makes his music serve the samples, not the other way around.

So yes — Play lives up to its press.