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Moby & The Void Pacific Choir
These Systems Are Failing Matthew Horton , November 16th, 2016 21:11

Moby's angry. Softly spoken, vegan Moby is angry. He's angry about the things you'd expect, from the environment to the warmongering big-wigs, and he's letting it all out. No Twin Peaks samples, no blues-house, just a lot of shouting over grim but textured electro-punk.

The Moby legend claims this is where it all began. Richard Melville Hall was a 1980s New York punk before he discovered dance music and assisted in its transition from warehouses to stadiums as rave went mainstream in the 90s. When he's not been noodling in ambient or flogging the entirety of mammoth 1999 album Play to the ad agencies, he's occasionally shown some of that edge – hardcore 1996 shot in the arm Animal Rights a notable swerve off-piste – but usually he keeps it on the down-low. His activism speaks louder than his music.

But that's no longer enough, not while everything's turning to worms. These Systems Are Failing was launched with a cute little 'manifesto' video, starring Moby bobbing around beneath the surface of a swimming pool with a bunch of pantomime horses and a mic, sounding remarkably clear as he announces, "After eons of struggle, we've won". All those weapons and safeguards we employed to survive in the early millennia of man's existence are now just knackering everything else – the planet, the animal kingdom, each other. "These systems are failing. Let them fail."

Anyway, you don't drive this kind of point home with breakbeats and old blues 78s. It takes heavily treated guitars, bellowed slogans, staccato synths and big, hectoring drums. First track 'Hey! Hey!' sounds like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark gone berserk. 'Break.Doubt' is a military-industrial complex of a tune, a jostling, anxiety-inducing stomp with a pointed message ("I won your prizes and more/I went and lost them in a foreign war") that leaves you drained and beaten 10 minutes into the album.

There’s no respite on ‘Erupt & Matter’, with a vast Muse-esque (no, come back) chorus and a tattoo of tribal drums, nor on the deep rumble of ‘The Light Is Clear In My Eyes’ where Moby wails, “The dissolution is calling me’ over horror synths. It’s dark, unrelenting. ‘Almost Loved’ showcases the fictional Void Pacific Choir chanting like an Omen soundtrack, a song of regret becoming a pounding mantra. The “perfect lie” of ‘And It Hurts’, the “dying sun” of the Killers synth-pop of ‘Are You Lost In The World Like Me?’, the falling sky of ‘Don’t Leave Me’ – Moby’s worldview feels unremittingly bleak.

It's not all spit and thunder, not quite. The press statement describing the video for 'Are You Lost In The World Like Me?' as "a lighthearted look at alienation, modern dystopian living, and the collapse of our species" gives some sort of clue to Moby's state of mind when he isn't in full rage. It's on the wry side of disaffection, a mode we can all get into right now.

And there’s a softer side to all this din. ‘A Simple Love’ finds some sweet New Order-ish redemption and ‘Don’t Leave Me’ belies its gloom with surprisingly lithe electro-funk, a bit Chakk, a bit 23 Skidoo. It’s all shades of grey though. A vaguely tender melody on ‘I Wait For You’ and a sticky chorus on ‘Are You Lost In The World Like Me?’ are pretty much all that stands between the listener and a prolonged stint under the crushing anvil of doom. Still, it’s autumn and the world’s going to the dogs. Here’s your soundtrack.