Moby’s ‘Hotel’ has some genuinely fascinating sleevenotes written by our slaphead wizard Moby himself, about why the album is called “Hotel”. He talks about how it’s so fascinating why hotel rooms are such “intimate spaces” where so much happens (sleeping, crying, sex, beginning relationships, ending relationships etc.) and yet they are “wiped clean” of our biological presence once we leave. If you’ve just scrolled down and spoiled this review for yourself, you’ll notice I’m not wholly in favour of this album, for the same reason why Moby is so interested in the concept of hotels. A lot seems to happen in this album (love, sadness, excitement etc.) but almost the entire record has the personality of a freshly laundered Travel Inn bed sheet. It has been “wiped clean”. ‘Play’ and ’18’ were almost saturated with a passion that belied their bedroom DIY origins, but ‘Hotel’ feels like it’s been rubbed with elbow grease until you can see your face in it, inside a studio with a booking fee of a genetically engineered, triple-breasted call girl. But, in all fairness, hats off to Moby. ‘Play’ made him a household name, yet he’s clearly not selling out since almost none of ‘Hotel’ stylistically sounds anything like the sample-based, cerebral soundscapes of his big success. It sounds more like gutted, down-beat dance pop in a vacuum-sealed packet. Still, he tries new stuff whether it works with everyone or not and he’s apologising for nothing. One or two songs though are pretty good pop songs (‘Raining Again’, ‘Lift Me Up’), though a little soul-less at times. The rest really isn’t worth it; very few songs that invite any intrigue or perseverance. A bump in the road for a very talented artist indeed.
Probably the nearest reference point I can think of another record named after a sterile environment is Eno’s ‘Music For Airports’, but while that record attempted to enhance the neutral surroundings of its namesake, ‘Hotel’ merely mimics them. That’s why I don’t like it, but there is a massive silver lining! The deluxe edition of Hotel, which I bought purely for what I’m about to mention, contains a bonus disc of ambient material which frankly is a worthy sequel to ‘Music For Airports’. I say this because in December 2009 I had a delayed check-in at Stanstead, so I wondered round the complex listening to so-called ‘Hotel: Ambient’ and it blended beautifully; out of order cash machines, sleepy 5AM holiday makers and almost un-noticed architecture: hand in glove. So here’s a first, an album where I enjoyed the limited edition bonus disc and the sleeve notes much more than the album itself. Maybe if they were released separately I wouldn’t have had to buy this test-tube of a record in the first place.