[HOT TRACK]Just what makes Moby tick?

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[HOT TRACK]Just what makes Moby tick?

It's past midnight, maybe around 2 a.m., and you're in your favorite bar, pleasantly tipsy. You're dying to hear just the right batch of songs. In a perfect world, what would the DJ play?

Maybe something like what Moby puts together. The New York-based recording artist, who lays alternately soulful, jazzy and hip-hop vocals over danceable beats, is back with a new album after the huge success of his last disk, 1999's "Play."

Moby, or Richard Melville Hall, a great-great-great nephew of the "Moby Dick" author Herman Melville, eschews tidy labels to define his style. He may approve, however, a long description like "an artist who mixes a little bit of everything to create something unexpected, diverse and creative."

Moby, 37, has been a philosophy major, a member of punk rock and metal bands and a techno DJ. He is something of a control freak. A rigid vegan for 16 years, a dedicated Christian and an animal rights and environmental activist, Moby handles just about everything to create the Moby sound -- sampling, mixing and performing. The 18 tracks on the latest album were culled from more than 100 songs he wrote after the tour for "Play."

Unlike "Play," which was mostly sensational and stimulating, the new album has some tranquil tracks, such as the 12th, "18." Also, the vocals take on a larger role, and Moby does more of his own singing. The discernible changes from "Play" to "18" were not deliberate, according to Moby. "I don't actually think about what's gonna happen when I'm producing an album," he said.

The new album opens with "We Are All Made of Stars," in which Moby sings to a groovy tune that approximates Blur's "Boys and Girls." Then he enlists the soulful vocals that worked so well in "Play," melding them with a variety of musical styles, such as the dripping piano in "In My Heart" and the electronics of "Another Woman."

Indeed, that is the strength of "18," compared with "Play." It relies less on groovy electronics, presenting a more diverse collection of sounds. Moby even creates a mesmerizing New Age number, "Fireworks," which he said was inspired by his favorite Japanese movie director, Kitano Takeshi. Sinead O'Connor lends a mysterious voice to "Harbour." "Extreme Ways" is a heady concoction of classical strings, electronics and amplified vocals.

The world may still be far from perfect, but you can probably count on hearing much of the new Moby at your favorite bar in the wee hours to come.

by Chun Su-jin

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