Moby

Ambient

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Like so much of Moby's earliest work, this isn't so much an album as a compilation via his original label, Instinct. Ambient influences in techno were all the rage in 1993 in terms of press and coverage (though jungle would swiftly eclipse both it and the progressive house genre), so it's no surprise Instinct wanted some of that action, right down to the says-it-all title. Motivations aside, Ambient is an enjoyable collection of experiments; if Aphex Twin's monumental Selected Ambient Works releases eclipse it in terms of both quality and sheer inventiveness, Moby's own efforts in the field are often quite pleasing. Those familiar with such later efforts as "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" and "The Rain Falls and rhe Sky Shudders" can find their partial roots here, though the compositions are generally more formal and less-immediately noteworthy than what came next. Songs like the piano/string synth "J Breas" and the even more self-descriptive "Piano & String" are agreeably moody and pretty, but not particularly noteworthy beyond that. More entrancing efforts can be found with "Myopia" and its bubbling swells of liquid bass, the quietly threatening drones and flanged rhythms on "Bad Days," and the high-pitched squeaks and tones that make up the rising-and-falling loops on the brief, barely minute-long "Sound." "My Beautiful Blue Sky" starts the collection on the best note possible, a haunting cascade of orchestration leading into a non-4/4 tribal beat that could easily rank with prime Future Sound of London. More than a few cuts use beats in a more immediate if still understated way, though instead of progressive house's often bathetic shrugs, the likes of "Heaven" and the extremely low-key groove "House of Blue Leaves" sparkle with a crisp, bright energy, making for a useful contrast to the gentler washes.

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