Mention Moby and I can guarantee that you will instantly have running through your head his song, ‘Natural Blues’, from his 1999 album, ‘Play’. Back then the track featured a sample vocal from folk singer, Vera Hall, singing ‘Trouble So Hard’, which Moby found on a boxed set of folk music, collected by field recorder, Alan Lomax.
Moby has revisited this song, along with many others from the ‘Play’ album, in his new release, ‘Reprise’, which is out to day on Deutsche Grammophon, and can be streamed and downloaded here. Additionally, a feature-length documentary, ‘Moby Doc’, opens today in cinemas in New York and Los Angeles, and is also available on digital platforms across the US, including Apple and Amazon. The international stream, outside the US, also premieres today. Watch the trailer below:
Along with the Budapest Art Orchestra, Moby revisits many musical highlights over his 30 year career, and has re-envisioned them for ‘Reprise’. Last week he spoke with Gregory Porter, who along with rising star Amethyst Kiah, features on vocals for the new version of ‘Natural Blues’, and explained how it all came about:
“I did my first ever orchestral show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic about four years ago, and after the show Hanna from Deutsche Grammophon came backstage, and asked if I wanted to make an orchestral – for lack of a better term – greatest hits album. And I immediately said yes, for so many different reasons. One, I’d never made an album with an orchestra, and I thought it would be such a fascinating approach to making a record, because normally when I’m making music I’m by myself, in my little studio, and working on an orchestral album, by definition, involves a lot of people.
I guess I wanted to avail myself of the unique ability that orchestral and acoustic music has to communicate emotion. The utility of music is communicating emotion; I love the way electronic instruments communicate emotion but there’s something so special, and organic, in the way that you can create emotion with an orchestra, a string quartet, and a gospel choir.”
That really is the ultimate inspiration, to revisit these songs, in many cases like with Gregory [Porter] and Amethyst Kiah on ‘Natural Blues’, with singers – sometimes as opposed to samples – and just expand upon the original emotional quality of all these emotional songs.”
In addition to Gregory and Amethyst, ‘Reprise’ features a very impressive array of guests, including Alice Skye, Apollo Jane, Darlingside, Dietrick Haddon, Jim James, Kris Kristofferson, Luna Li, Mark Lanegan, Mindy Jones, Nataly Dawn, Novo Amor, Skylar Grey, and Víkingur Ólafsson.
Watch the official music video below for ‘Natural Blues’, featuring Gregory Porter and Amethyst Kiah:
‘Moby Doc’ was directed and edited by Rob Bralver, and is distributed by Greenwich Entertainment. The surrealist biographical documentary is narrated by Moby himself, and sees him reflecting on his often turbulent personal life, as well as his iconic music. It follows his journey as a member of underground punk bands to his heights as a chart-topping solo artist, and his personal journey from struggling addict to vegan activist. ‘Moby Doc’ features interviews with David Lynch, whom Moby credits as “saving him”, and his childhood hero and later good friend, David Bowie.
The documentary features extraordinary concert footage, while using a unique blend of re-enactments, interviews, and archival footage. All in all, it is an insightful, unvarnished look at an artist whose traumatic childhood shaped him in profound ways.
‘Reprise’ is out to day on Deutsche Grammophon, and can be streamed and downloaded here.