- Personnel: Moby (vocals, various instruments, samples); Pilar Basso, Reggie Matthews, The Shining Light Gospel Choir (vocals).
- Includes liner notes by Moby.
- PLAY was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance. "Bodyrock" was nominated for the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
- "Natural Blues" was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording.
- The Limited Edition packaging of PLAY: THE B-SIDES includes new essays, photos and drawings from Moby.
- A marked departure from the sound of his groundbreaking EVERYTHING IS WRONG and his subsequent hard-edged output, PLAY finds Moby charting new territory. Abandoning the breakneck drive of techno punk for looser, groovier structures entrenched in dance-oriented hip-hop brings a whole new feeling to Moby's vast and varied sonic canvas. Several songs, including the hit single "Honey," are distinguished by the appearance of early American field recordings, looped bits of African American spirituals and folk songs culled from the Alan Lomax catalogue.
- Moby's penchant for complex composition is in evidence here, as layer after layer of keyboard ornamentation, percussive effects, guitar, vocals (Moby sings and also plays all the instruments), and pulsing, echoing beats create a rich, deeply textured tapestry. PLAY shows that Moby's sophisticated sense of sound collage hasn't dulled, and the combination of these wide-ranging sonic experiments with unique historical samples and rootsier, more accessible beats indicates his ever-changing vision as an artist.
Rolling Stone (6/24/99, p.64) - 4 out of 5 - "...embraces both hip-hop syncopations and...early-twentieth-century African American folk music to create time-traveling beatbox rhythms....Moby sing-speaks, plays innumerable instruments and crafts complex soulful harmonies..."
Rolling Stone (1/18/01, p.56) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Continues PLAY's fusion of traditional blues with house beats and club ambience with old soul..."
Spin (9/99, p.128) - Ranked #20 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (7/99, pp.125-6) - 9 (out of 10) - "...To hear an electronic dance album looking backward as intently as it dreams forward is a real-time jolt, and Moby rides the groove with a buzz reminiscent of his early, techno anthems....It's as real an image as rave,or alternative, culture has ever imagined."
Entertainment Weekly (6/11/99, p.68) - "...techno imp's best album since 1995's EVERYTHING IS WRONG....setting snippets from old blues and gospel recordings to new rhythmic settings....PLAY is music that truly moves back to the future." - Rating: A-
Q (10/01, p.54) - Ranked #35 in Q's "Best 50 Albums of Q's Lifetime"
Q (1/00, p.84) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1999."
Q (6/99, p.109) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Moby's visceral use of early blues samples is at the heart of PLAY, creating achingly emotional pieces...before the choirs, liquid piano runs and swirling analogue synthesizers kick in..."
Alternative Press (8/99, p.67) - 4 (out of 5) - "...pushing the [electronic music] genre in new directions....[PLAY] draws you in with its beautiful combinations of sound...."
Muzik (6/99, p.86) - Stars 4 (out of 5) - "...Moby operates in his own sonic vacuum, where gospel angels ride with outlaw cowboys and b-boy wannabes, just becuase they can. Idiosyncratically brilliant, as ever..."
CMJ (1/10/00, p.3) - Ranked #4 in CMJ's "Top 30 Editorial Picks [for 1999]."
CMJ (5/31/99, p.5) - "...Relying heavily on vocal samples of great Southern spiritual and blues singers, he has crafted an album of uniquely affecting soul....this onetime hardcore kid has found a way to match studio grooves with gospel harmony and deep blues..."
Mojo (Publisher) (1/00, p.31) - Ranked #23 in Mojo Magazine's "Best of 1999."
NME (Magazine) (5/15/99, p.31) - "...PLAY encompasses hip-hop beats, funky grooves, samples of old blues hollering, big house emotionalism and slow, smoldering soul....ploughing a unique furrow in pop music, he demands your enjoyment as much as your respect."