Whalin’ at Wanderlust

In its fourth year, Wanderlust Festival combines music with yoga, local food and environmentalism in one glorious setting. Those in the musical know, however, will all agree this event is a smorgasbord of the best sounds around. Representing the electronica faction is music pioneer, Moby.

Returning after a three-year absence, Moby is the quintessential electronica legend. He is noted for bending and stretching music into something new and, when it comes to true-blue dance music heavy-hitters, he’s hard to top. With a career that encompasses many musical twists and turns, his ability to mix all manner of sounds to create some of the most diverse electronica music has earned him an ardent cult following.

Moby’s career stretches to early rave and acid-house releases in the late 80s and early 90s, where he was recognized for his contributions to dance and techno music. The excellence and originality of his craft make him a much sought after remixer. As one of the most controversial figures in techno music, he is alternately praised for bringing a face to the notoriously anonymous electronic genre, as well as being scorned by hordes of techno artists and fans for diluting and trivializing the form. Fusing rapid disco beats with heavy distorted guitars, punk rhythms and detailed productions, he draws equally from pop, dance and movie soundtracks. Not only does his music differ from both the cool surface textures of ambient music and the hedonistic world of house music, but also so does his lifestyle. Moby is infamous for his devout, radical Christian beliefs, as well as his environmental and vegan activism.

The man, like the music, is cool, but not too cool. He is consciously and intentionally an everyman. Not simply modest, he seems determined to rid himself of identifying characteristics. The shaved pate, the stylist-free personal styling — it all screams regular guy.

Musically, too, his sound is purposely vague, determinedly indeterminate. By his own account, Moby’s music is a patchwork of influences, too diffused to be likewise influential on other artists. Well crafted but, because of a heavy reliance on borrowed vocals, not especially personal. It’s the kind of toe-tapping sonic wallpaper that works as well in restaurants, aerobics classes and movies as it does in clubs.

His concoction of breakbeat rhythms, ambient mixology and inspired blues and gospel samples cry out across musical genres and histories, imparting a time-tested wisdom to beat-driven ears. And, with Moby it is impossible to separate the joy of the message from the joy of the grooves. His sincerity reverberates through the beats and instrumental eclecticism like a pulse. With an effortless grace Moby reaches across his turntables and finds something pure and almost organic.

Moby’s technique of utilizing notes harks back to medieval times. The prolongation of some notes (which are hypnotizing) resembles those of the chants used in religious services. The transitions can be compared to classical/baroque music. Then, there are the vocals that resemble arias. He has made it music that sounds both underground and accessible at the same time.

Moby performs as part of the Wanderlust Festival at the Village at Squaw Valley. On July 20, he will perform a DJ set at The Greatest Place starting at 10 p.m. and on July 21 he will perform an acoustic set at The Greatest Place at 4 p.m. Music only tickets are $25 for July 20 and $15 for July 21. For more information or to view a complete music schedule of the festival, visit

Saturday, July 20 (DJ set) |  10 p.m.  | $25 | All ages | The Greatest Place | The Village at Squaw Valley  | Olympic Valley, Calif

Sunday, July 21 (acoustic set) |  4 p.m.  | $15 | All ages | The Greatest Place | The Village at Squaw Valley  | Olympic Valley, Calif