Moby’s fifteenth studio album, Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt, is situated in the post-apocalyptic wasteland following the Divine’s abandonment of Man. As the collective modern Man races toward an unsustainable future, Moby isolates the individual and explores the frustratingly destructive choices made along the way. However, these choices are also met with sympathy knowing the individual Man is only making decisions that are deemed to be in his best interest in one precise moment. It is with this paradox in mind that Moby explores individuality, vulnerability, faith and the brokenness of humanity.
Sonically, Moby draws inspiration from Bristol trip-hop mainstays Smith & Mighty, dub duo Sly & Robbie and Wally Badarou, the French musical polyglot. Moby also references American soul singer Baby Huey’s “Hard Times” with the Everything Was Beautiful, track “Welcome to Hard Times”. These influences fuse to produce a glowing tapestry of fluid sound with roots in trip-hop, soul and gospel.
Moby also pulls from the poetry of W.B. Yeats. Two of the album’s song titles are taken from Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming”. “Mere Anarchy” imagines a desolate landscape bereft of the cities that once stood tall and the sun that once shone down upon them. “The Ceremony of Innocence” addresses the world’s ending from varying perspectives. Within disaster can we also find beauty?
Throughout the album, Moby references Man’s fractured spiritual relationship. “Like a Motherless Child” and “The Last Goodbyes” recount Man’s ever-growing transgressions and his eventual fall from grace. On “This Wild Darkness,” “Falling Rain and Light” and “A Dark Cloud Is Coming,” what began as plaintive and austere folk songs early in the recording process are then re-contextualized as electronic-based non-denominational prayers detailing Man’s attempts to reconnect with The Almighty.
Moby notes that with each song on Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt there is something wrong or missing. These imperfections could be rather small - such as an unedited vocal track - or something more noticeable as is the case of the missing bass line in “The Ceremony of Innocence.” Reflecting upon how this relates to the spirituality of his album, Moby explains how he was inspired by Middle Eastern rug weavers who will deliberately incorporate imperfections into their rugs to symbolize the only perfection in life is the Divine.
Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt was recorded in Moby’s bedroom studio in Los Angeles during the spring and summer of 2017.