These Systems Are Failing

Moby & the Void Pacific Choir

Little Idiot, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


So, Moby’s pissed.

Most of you reading that will go “Why?” But a select few will go “Finally!”, and once they hear the disc many more probably will be on board (again? For the first time?) with the artist in decrying modern society and those who continue to hurt the planet and, to a lesser extent, each other.

This is not the Moby who burst through to fame with Play and “South Side” in 1999. This is angry, angular, electronic stadium electronic punk, with multitracked shouted choruses espousing simple themes over drum machines, fuzz guitar and synthesizer flourishes. From an attitude standpoint, it harkens back to his 1996 punk album Animal Rights, a disc that celebrated the artist’s roots but offered precious little hint as to his future.

The staccato energy of a band like Sisters of Mercy or any EDM track you care to name is present, but fueled by all the voices and a righteous energy that gives each upbeat track a jolt of life. The “choir” of the band name is a seven-piece of which Moby is a part, but they only appear on two tracks, and Moby wrote all nine songs here. That’s the other thing: The disc is only 35 minutes long, like any good punk album, making its point and getting the hell out.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Break Doubt” is the best of the bunch, a stomping breakneck rocker with punk guitars and a pounding electronic beat, an arena rocker you can dance to in Miami or pump your fist to in a dingy basement in Philadelphia. It’s also the most forward-looking song here and most indicative of what Moby is trying to do with this project.

The other songs tend to favor ‘80s rhythms and sounds, glossed up and angrified from New Wave banality, but tell me “A Simple Love” wouldn’t fit on a K-Tel compilation next to A-Ha in its initial sonic attack. To his credit, Moby informs much of the album with a latter-day David Bowie-esque sentiment in his vocals (the ones not multi-tracked), grounding the proceedings when they threaten to go too retro or obscure, and elements of newer arena-rock noisemakers like Muse and the Killers cranked up to maximum volume flow through the disc as well like Red Bull (witness the soaring crush of “The Light is Clear In My Eyes”).

The closing “And It Hurts” is the other standout here because of its punk manifesto, the kind where the machine-gun drums, shouted vocals and noisy guitar squall all race to the finish

Lyrically, the blunt focus is on the environmental systems we have in place that are breaking down, humanity’s tendency toward overconsumption and how we treat the Earth, with a little bit of social anger thrown in the mix as well. It’s not unlike Neil Young’s The Monsanto Years disc from 2015, but it’s far more vitriolic in its delivery; in part, no doubt, due to Moby’s restless soul and critical eye. That he doesn’t offer much in the way of solutions is beside the point. He needs to vent, and if the outburst should spark a call to action – or at least a meaningful conversation or two – so much the better.

These Systems Are Failing is unlike most of Moby’s catalog, fusing the old with the new to create something fresh, energetic and righteously angry yet inspiring. The disc may not have a lasting impact, but it’s not really designed to; it’s an album for the moment, and it’s a fine one.

Rating: B

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© 2016 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Little Idiot, and is used for informational purposes only.