This is to prove Moby wasn’t always a man whose talent extends only as far as lifting old blues samples and grafting them onto bland corporate coffee-table music. This is to prove that Moby has a heart. At the time of this album’s release, only two people in the UK (“The Big Issue”, and a student paper in Coventry) wanted to review him. His name was dirt. He supported Soundgarden, and his own headline gigs brought in about 100 people. But why?
“Animal Rights” is about as far away as you can get from the Moby that you know & loathe. “Animal Rights” is a frantic 40 minute essay about how Everything is Wrong. Working almost entirely without guest musicians (a violin player appears on two songs), Moby created this demented, claustrophobic punk-thrash album in isolation. Rarely has a record sounded tighter - probably because this is truly a “solo” album. Every instrument was played by Moby, and the mindset of the record shows this. The sound is locked into a groove where each separate instrument is telepathically locked in to the others.
It’s a relentless assault upon the senses. It sounds like walls closing in. It sounds like being crushed slowly to death. It sounds like a man raging coherently yet unintelligably against the cruelty of love, the abuse of trust, against loneliness. That’s why I love it so much.
Bookended by two mellow instrumental pieces, “Animal Rights” picks up the pieces of a broken relationship which ended bitterly and appends this theme to a bitter cathartic primal scream. Moby returns to a time of innocence and to his first love, the guitar, and purges himself. Lyrics are largely indecipherable - the feeling Moby expresses within the album are largely beyond language: though one of the few lyrics I can make out is “make me a being without a soul”. It’s almost as if Moby is saying if feeling is like this, make me without feeling.
The material he deals with here has been unfairly lambasted as being unrepresentative of what Moby is capable of; especially when the previous album ("Everything is wrong - the mix album") was one of hardhouse remixes. But this album is Moby doing what he did first, when he was guitarist in US hardcore bands such as The Vatican Commandos, Flipper and briefly in US 4AD indies Ultra Vivid Scene.
And whilst artists such as Beck and Bowie are lauded for their diversity,* Moby* was lambasted for daring to go against the grain and release an album of unrelenting thrash/punk rock. Look beyond the name on the cover and listen to one of the most underbought, underrated, unusual albums a major recording artist has ever produced.
9Mark Reed's Score