The Mobester is one righteous dude -- and I mean this in the full-on Ted-Nugent-in-a-jacked-up-camo-4x4 kind of way. Break out the leather fringe, folks, the bandannas and Bic lighters. Moby has left the "cold" world of techno and swung into the arena rock hothouse on a vine. "Fuck electronica," seems to be his savage cry, and just as we as a modern rock nation were being herded in that dance-friendly direction. (This transformation wouldn't have anything to do with his recent opening slot for Soundgarden, would it?)

But what to make of those serious liner notes that don't connect to the music in any way that I can see -- other than that Moby wrote them? All right, read them if you must, but, for your own sake, first transform yourself into someone you knew in high school with a Christ complex (yes, you will do), then nod in earnest at his every homily: Homosexuals and animals deserve human rights, too; the Christian Coalition is actually Satan; people need love and affection, etc. Glare indignantly at all that hypocrisy around you. Moby is your ass-kicking choir director. There. Now on to the wanker guitar solos.

I prefer the saucy one at the end of "Come On Baby." Vintage Scorps, updated with a bit of hep digital processing. Hammer-ons and pull-offs, trills and three-note string bends. Some killer strutting there, the likes of which I haven't experienced since I spent some quality time in Guitar Center in the late '80s. And laid down as it is over a pounding industrialized Aerosmith swagger -- wow! What ego! Too bad his grunt has no sex in it, that he doesn't wear a lot of scarves. Too bad he couldn't screech his way out of a sandwich baggie.

I know, he's going for a "naked" production. I understand he wants us to feel his cold, pale scars. But, aside from a couple of tracks of this aforementioned industrial cock-rock, his venture into rock/hardcore/industrial is monumentally unoriginal (especially after Ministry). What we have here is a man laying himself on the rock 'n' roll cross, daring us to drive in the nails. At the risk of resurrecting Bob Dole, just don't do it. Instead, reach down and give him a little shake. Let him know it's all been done before, exactly like this, but better, right down to the crucifixion. Say, "If you could get a little less self-absorbed, we could use some help with a remix, or our neighborhood cleanup." Tell him a decent joke, get him to smile. Then haul him up, pat him on the butt, and send him back to the mixing boards to practice his skill. Yes, skill -- something learned and honorable, something you can be proud of, as opposed to "God-given" talent. (Those boys in Soundgarden are incorrigible.)

-- Curtis Bonney

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