Album Mini-review: Moby — Hotel:Ambient
File next to: Brian Eno, The Orb
Brian Eno once described ambient music as the aural equivalent of wallpaper; it’s designed to be experienced passively rather than attentively. It does what it does, and you do what you do. The most effective (or characteristic) ambient music, then, floats by unobtrusively. That’s not at all what Moby’s fourteen instrumental tracks do here. The beats are alluring, and draw the listener into Moby’s sonic washes of sound. But while it doesn’t fit the classical definition of ambient music, this reissue of his 2005 album is nonetheless enjoyable. The music doesn’t actually go anyplace; that would be completely anathema to the genre. But somewhat perversely, it’s too, well, interesting to serve as truly ambient music. “Real” instruments such as piano coexist nicely alongside washes of synthesizer pads and what (in places) sound like actual drums. Too engaging to qualify as ambient, it’s nonetheless a fulfilling way to spend an hour-plus.
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About the Author
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4000-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he is co-teaching a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: 40 Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.