Moby: Play Review

The Disc

Moby (real name Richard Hall, the nickname is a reference to his distant relative Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick) is one of a group of artists, including Travis and David Gray, who released a breakthrough album that only really came to prominence after a long time; in his case, his song 'Porcelain' was used memorably in the film of 'The Beach'. His musical style is a mixture of blues, dance and soundtrack-esque instrumentals; whether he deserves to be seen as 30-something easy listening, or whether he is a genuine pioneer, is a topic for debate. I assume if you're reading this that you have some interest in the bald wonder, and will attempt to describe what's on the disc.

The Videos
The 'main' feature, we here have 10 music videos, of 7 different songs, running about 35 minutes (2 different videos of BodyRock, Natural Blues and Porcelain are included). As music videos go, these are some of the better ones I've seen, with the fantastic Mike Mills-directed video for Run On being probably the best of the bunch, but they're all far more interesting than the usual shots of some band miming, and an interesting watch, whether you like the music or not.

The Remixes
Here we have about 90 minutes worth of remixes, accompanied by 'original visuals', which come across as nothing so much as a truly twisted acid trip. The music itself is really rather good, as you'd hope and expect, and the remix CD has thoughtfully been included by Mute, making it less of an obligation to sit through all the remixes on the DVD.

Moby's documentary: 'Give an idiot a camcorder'
Rather than some tiresome piece of self-promotion, this is around 20 minutes worth of footage of Moby on his European tour. Parts of it (his Scottish accent, his doomed tour of a French cultural festival) are truly hilarious, but it does begin to outstay its welcome, especially in the truly bizarre 'Moby interviews Moby' segments, which are more like something out of Brass Eye than what you'd expect from a dance pioneer.

Live on Jools Holland
A lengthy 25-minute extract from Moby's 'Later with Jools Holland', where he performs 'Natural Blues', 'Porcelain', 'Go', 'New Dawn Fades', 'Everloving' and 'Porcelain: acoustic'. It's a terrific set, with Moby on top form, and it's just a bit of a shame that the entire programme wasn't included on the disc, given the quality of the songs performed.

The Picture

Wildly variable in quality, the picture moves from glorious anamorphic 16:9 for the Jools Holland to grainy 4:3 for Moby's documentary, as well as for some of the videos. However, the transfer is normally clear and sharp, and there is little to seriously affect viewing any of the sections of the DVD. A pretty good job.

The Sound

The 5.1 mix does a fantastic job of bringing out the sound, especially with some of the more 'difficult' songs such as Honey, where the bass occasionally threatens to overwhelm the vocals. A surround option is also provided, which is far closer to what you'd expect to hear on TV, and the difference between this and the 5.1 mix is quite staggering, especially in the Jools Holland section of the disc.

The Extras

Theoretically, the entire disc is an extra. The free CD is a pleasing bonus, and there's a DVD-ROM option to remix two songs. This is far less interesting than it sounds, and not really worth bothering with.


The free (Region 2 exclusive, as well) remix CD is probably enough to tip the balance in favour of buying the disc. If we're being completely honest, there's a slight feeling of emptiness otherwise; the two main musical supplements last for about an hour, the documentary is a watch-once affair, and the remix videos are a headache. But the quality of the presentation is high, and the disc is recommended as a result.

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