Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Moby: Play [V2, 1999]
I doubt the hyperactive little imp sat down and "composed" here. There are no reports he even strove to unify la DJ Shadow. And Endtroducing . . . is the reference point nevertheless. It's because Moby still loves song form that he elects to sample Alan Lomax field recordings rather than garage-sale instrumental and spoken-word LPs. But though the blues and gospel and more gospel testify not just for song but for body and spirit, they wouldn't shout anywhere near as loud and clear without the mastermind's ministrations--his grooves, his pacing, his textures, his harmonies, sometimes his tunes, and mostly his grooves, which honor not just dance music but the entire rock tradition it's part of. Although the futurist's dream of Blind Willie Johnson that opens this complete work was some kind of hit in England, here it'll be strictly for aesthetes. We've earned it. A+