If you hope to greet the Void by hosting a rave on the rim of a crater (to paraphrase Henry Miller), the understated, rather sad-eyed Play might sound faint and indecisive compared to the multi-tracks and the single minds of the Prodigy or the Chemical Brothers. Yet Moby, the vegan/Christian/moralistic antimoralist continues on an old-fashioned quest to craft electronic pop/rave that corresponds sonically to his state of mind. He often succeeds: No other current pop composer can draw harsh guitars and beats together with simple piano arpeggios and sighing synthesizers to such elegant effect. Moby's strategies are always enjoyable. On the 1995 album Everything Is Wrong, he set lovable Ritalan-deprived dance tunes against pensive instrumentals; on 1996's Animal Rights, secondhand speed-rock guitars scrubbed those pensive instrumentals raw, but with Moby's own squalling vocals in front, it took some getting used to. This time he's stepped back a few. The music he builds to support sampled gospel singers, as well as the bluesman who sings on "Trouble Now," counters the album's lack of surefire club momentum with the effect of elegiac-at-any-speed. Everyone's got their own notion of how to play out this millennium, and this album is not for the crater. It's for gazing across a frozen lake. -- John Young


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