ROLE: Composer, Producer, Performer
Daniel Correa, live drums
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr, keys ('Paradise')
José Luis Pardo, guitar ('Paradise')
Jonathan Maron, bass ('Meridians')
Alex Moulton, all other instruments
MIXER: Marc Urselli, East Side Sound, NYC
MASTERING: Nils Patel, The Exchange, London
ALBUM COVER ART: Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
ART DIRECTOR & TYPOGRAPHY: Tatiana Arocha
ABOUT THE ALBUM
Early analog synthesizers were true to their name; they were designed to be electric replacements for acoustic instruments. It's this literal notion of "analog synthesis" that's always fascinated me, perhaps even more than the warm, rich, fat and often quirky tones that most people typically talk about. I am just as equally obsessed with early synthesizer records that are now accepted as trendsetting proto-electronica as I am with synth records which are decidedly un-cool arrangements of orchestral works. Exodus was born in this gray area and lives happily on the fringes of good taste.
I also attribute much of the inspiration for Exodus to the fantasy movies of the 70s and 80s, which exist in the same questionable taste territory. While most electronic music draws references to science fiction, the narrative of Exodus is definitively fantasy-oriented. The delayed oscillations and phasing lead lines are certainly retro-futuristic, but I was also eager to use live musicians, traditional percussion, and African and Latin rhythms to reflect certain characters and plot points.
Many people continue to ask me about the narrative behind the songs. There is in fact a full storyline which may someday be released in another form. But I think the music can inspire many other stories and characters, especially when listening as a continuous album experience. For now, the ridiculously awesome artwork by Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell will have to be enough.
Liner Notes, July 2oo8
by Bill Murphy
We’re constantly being told we live in a hyper-accelerated, hyper-real age, where sound bites and short attention spans are the functional tools of survival. With entire record collections available online as boiled-down bit torrents—with virtually every song ever recorded, in fact, floating around in MP3 cyberspace just waiting to be grabbed—who the hell has any time to slow down and listen to a full-length concept album? Deeper still, who can find the time to make one?
Somehow, Alex Moulton did, even though he arguably logs more travel, face time and 12-hour work days than most high-profile foreign diplomats. As musician, producer, DJ, music video director and CEO of the Expansion Team media production company and record label, Moulton has squeezed several lifetimes of creative output into just the last ten years, and lately he shows no signs of easing off the gas. With the release of his sprawling solo debut Exodus, he conjures a retro-utopian vision of a happier time, when albums were real albums and music was presented not just as disembodied chunks of digital information, but as a full-on experience.
“Although I understand the reasons why, it makes me sad that the album format is breathing its last breath,” Moulton explains. “So just as the final nail is being driven into the coffin, I wanted to honor the tradition of the great epic concept albums of the late ’70s. It’s possible I may be among the last generation that spent hours listening to LPs, staring at gatefold covers and imagining the world that the music painted in my head, and that’s the experience I wanted to recreate with Exodus. I believe those moments turn someone into a real music lover—it doesn’t come from listening to singles.”
That might sound almost hopelessly nostalgic, but Exodus is much more than just a walk down memory lane. Although seasoned crate diggers will detect vintage ’70s influences as far-flung as Tangerine Dream, Giorgio Moroder, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre and even Lipps Inc., Exodus moves beyond mere synth-pop prog-rock worship to embody a larger vision—one where the music becomes an all-enveloping narrative, inviting the listener into a gear-shifting, headphone-friendly mindtrip.
“I was trained as a filmmaker,” Moulton says, “so I always write music with a visual in mind. In this case I actually created a full-realized storyline—an epic sci-fi adventure, or a space-opera, if you will—that builds in a climactic arc with all the plot twists and turns. The songs are presented continuously like a DJ set, but they’re also like key scenes for a film. And even though I know what the characters are doing at every moment of each song, I’m hoping listeners will create their own story.”
For his part, Moulton serves as both conductor and funky time traveler, hurtling toward deep outta space (as the late great Billy Preston so elegantly put it) on a musical journey that’s by turns irreverent, groovacious and, at times, exuberantly cheesy. “I think electronic music often takes itself way too seriously,” he laments. “Everyone wants to be the coolest new DJ or whatever, but the electronic acts I love most aren’t afraid to let it all hang out, from Chromeo to Lemon Jelly to Daft Punk. Isn’t that what funky music is all about?”
The fun begins when Exodus initiates lift-off with “Overture,” a churning, gurgling orchestral piece that morphs into a Blade Runner-like soundscape just as Daniel Correa (from the New York-based Colombian fusion band Samurindo) crashes in on a duly echo-kissed drum kit. As he does throughout the album, Moulton taps into a litany of Moog, ARP 2600 and Yamaha CS80 synth patches for a lush and endlessly layered sound. It’s a richness of analog synthesis that recalls the best work of Klaus Schulze, Kraftwerk, Can, Neu! or any of the coolest motorik groups you can name, but when tracks like the trunk-bumping “Out of Phase” or the whimsical trance rocker “Flaming Swords” bang into the mix, it becomes clear that Moulton is equally enamored of the latest in minimalist techno and the psychedelic rock resurgence—and much more. (Even the tribal drums of “The Sacrifice”—a drums-only groove inspired by Afro-Colombian rhythms with an uncut, live-in-the- studio feel—would give cats like Timbaland a run for their bling.)
With so many ideas to convey, Moulton couldn’t resist inviting a few other musicians and fellow travelers to the party. Along with Correa (who plays drums and percussion on over half of the 14 tracks on Exodus), Groove Collective’s Jonathan Maron adds an envelope-soaked wah bass to the disco-funk workout “Meridians,” while José Luis Pardo (aka DJ Afro of Los Amigos Invisibles) drops some slinky guitar riffage on “Paradise”—which, by the way, surges into the sublime thanks to a murderous keyboard solo by Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (known for his stints with Beck and Air), who invokes Herbie Hancock and The Isley Brothers with some smoke to spare.
“All my inspirations get channeled through what feels right for the dancefloor today,” Moulton says, citing the mixing acumen of two-time Grammy-winning engineer Marc Urselli and the mastering stroke of Nilesh Patel (of Daft Punk and Chemical Brothers fame), “so there are some very modern elements to the music, and it’s mixed and mastered the way a record needs to be now. But again, it’s a total concept album. I wanted to make something like a Pink Floyd record, where you put it on and you listen to the whole thing all the way through and it takes you on this crazy journey. It’s progressive, it’s funky and it probably has no place in a singles-driven market, but I’m doing it because when I was a kid this is what I had imagined music would sound like at the dawn of the 21st Century.”
“Exodus is nothing short of one of 2009’s top albums of the year!” 4.5/5 - About.com
"Moulton has not only met his goal of the simultaneous concept album and DJ mix-- he's exceeded it by light years." 6.9/10 - Pitchfork
“One of the most musically inspired albums of 2008.” - Weekly Dig
“[Exodus] sounds like a synthdriven, Moroder-inspired disco album Daft Punk could have used to bridge Homework and Discovery.” - URB (feature article)
“Like Blade Runner rescored by Daft Punk, this retrofuture house masterwork has electric sheep fluffed out with the dustiest vintage synths and a cold replicant core aping the live drums on the dance records in Moulton’s late-’70s/early ’80s childhood.” - Paper Thin Walls
“Space disco so rococo it rivals Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’.” - The Stranger
“All that’s missing from Alex Moulton’s epic debut is a movie.” - Time Out Chicago
“It took Moulton four years to craft this album which garners a variety of synthesizer manipulation similar to that of Vangelis and Daft Punk, and strikes a visual and thematic pose that his predecessors would certainly approve of." 4/5 - URB (album review)
“Moulton’s revisiting of synthy ‘80s glam pop and ‘70s disco is a treat. It’s like Cassius, if they had put out “1999” in 1979.” - C|Net
“An epic near-masterpiece of a debut... anyone curious about electronic music could do a lot worse than use it as an introduction.” - Okay Player
“Fourteen tracks of pure cerebral satisfaction. A real mind blower.” - babysue:LMNOP
“Moulton’s saturated productions (their influences mixing Vangelis and Moroder, equal parts Body & Soul and the Rex Club) seem best suited for the Paradise Garage dancefloor, as opening themes for Pink Floyd live at Pompeii, or the bumper music for infomercials selling seats to Fhloston Paradise.” 7/10 - XLR8R
“Exodus is meant to let the listener lose themselves in a fantasy world of their choosing. A good dance record to be sure, but even better for inward reflection.” - Yahoo
“Icy electronica could be a soundtrack for a robot road movie.” - Playboy
“Alex Moulton = The Whip + Midnight Juggernauts + Daft Punk. The music is masterfully crafted, sounding more like the score to an 80s love story than a dance hall burner. Tack on the peculiarity of Kraftwerk, and a little LCD Soundsystem style and you have the schematic for a sexy time.” - SLUG
“Alex Moulton’s piece is a hell of a fun ride. The vivacious beats, the elegant synth blasts, and the swirling orchestral segments add up to an outstanding entry in the electronic music genre.” - BlogCritics Music
“Unleashed to a generation of music fans with attention spans shorter than a one-bar sample, I’m not sure how many people will “get” this record. Those who do will already have a few early Cerrone albums in their library, and Exodus will sit proudly along side them.” - PopMatters
“‘Exodus’ is a sprawling, 70-minute epic of electronic instrumentals... Moulton uses Moogs and other hi-tech synthesizers such as the CS80 to generate lush, layered soundscapes that would probably work best as majestic soundtrack pieces to some suitably retro, sci-fi film.” - Comfort Comes
“This... is like the hottest album artwork I've seen in forever.” - New City Movement
“Moulton has it all. If kitchen sinks made alluring electronic music, there'd be one of those in here too. Which isn't to suggest this is a sprawling, poorly contained conceit. All the music here, from the dancefloor stuff to the transcendent, spacebound sections, belongs together, on this disc. 4/5” - Raves.com
“...hearing Alex Moulton’s music is like finding Polaroids from a trip to EPCOT in 1983." (single review of "Meridians" 8/10) - Paper Thin Walls
“Majesty and beauteous wonderment akin to the Flaming Lips’ own progressive conceptual opus ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’.” - Blogarhythms