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Voodoo Child - Baby Monkey


Review: Jack Foley

VOODOO Child is, of course, the side project of Moby, although it has been fairly quiet since the release of its eponymous first single, in 1991, and the debut album, in 1996.

Now, however, it is responsible for Baby Monkey, an album which was born out of an experience Moby enjoyed at an underground party in Glasgow, in December 2002, while on the 18 tour.

The DJs were playing ‘hard, sexy, straightforward dance music’ and Moby thought it was ‘perfect’, so much so that when he arrived home the following day, he resolved to make an album which followed the same format.

In his own words, Baby Monkey is ‘not an experimental record, not an avant-garde record, but a straightforward, underground, electronic dance record’.

As such, it is very much an album for hardcore dance enthusiasts, coming across as the type of record that you would expect to hear coming out of one of the massive European clubs during the Summer season, designed to bring a sweaty, occasionally chilled out, conclusion to holidays filled with sun, sea and sex.

And therein lies its strength and its weakness. I’m no fan of club anthems, finding them dull, repetitive and frequently lazy affairs, although, in chilled out mode, there is some satisfaction to be found.

Hence, tracks which veer into more usual Moby territory fare much better than those that are all about the pulsating beats of the house, trance and techno crowds.

Synthesisers, for instance, bears all the hallmarks of a souped up Moby, containing the trademark synths and laidback grooves of the artist at his best. Likewise, the lengthy, but occasionally hypnotic Strings, which arrives like a breath of fresh air amid the bigger numbers.

Elsewhere, the deeply retro throwback of Light Is In Your Eyes sounds like a guilty pleasure, evoking memories of some of those appallingly catchy 80s chart anthems, usually put out by the likes of the Pet Shop Boys or Erasure, with a little ambient Moby thrown in for good measure.

Opening track, Gotta Be Loose in Your Mind, works well, too, managing to crossover several dance genres, without alienating the alternative crowd. It also evokes memories of Solomon Burke's collaboration with Junkie XL last year.

But for every high point, there is a low just waiting in the wings, with the monotonous likes of Minors and Take It Home threatening to undermine much of the good work, on show.

Baby Monkey is by no means a wasted exercise by Moby, and is likely to appeal to the underground movement it is so obviously in search of, but it is an acquired taste which looks destined for cult appeal, rather than anything approaching the success of his usual work.

Track listing:
1. Gotta Be Loose In Your Mind
2. Minors
3. Take It Home
4. Light Is In Your Eyes
5. Electronics
6. Strings
7. Gone
8. Unh Yeah
9. Obscure
10. Last
11. Harpie
12. Synthesisers

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