When Expansion Team founder and creative director Alex Moulton, whose commercial clients include Ford, VH1, JetBlue and more, began putting together his first solo album of music four years ago he didn't, as his chosen genre of electronic music may suggest, look to the future. No, instead he decided to arrange his style of music around the vibe and aesthetic of the 1970s of his youth, eschewing single-oriented material for an almost concept album approach.
"One of the things I love about being a creative director is that my job is about keeping up with trends and things like that but when it comes to me as an individual artist, you often have to let all that go and just do what makes you happy," he says. "I just wanted to have some fun with the format. And really, when I listen to music I like listening to entire albums and hearing the artist through. It just puts you in a different mental space than you were before you began."
The album wordlessly follows a storyline Moulton had worked out as he built each track, but we'll have to wait to hear exactly what he was thinking. "There's actually a full storyline we're working on and just finalizing with a writer now," he says. "It's going to launch online towards the end of the summer."
The concept album approach to music was paired with Moulton's vision for a record cover that expressed the same ideal. "We talked a lot about the type of artwork that would represent a project like this and we knew it had to tell a story and we knew it had to hark back to this gate-fold '70s LP feel," he says "So, as we looked around for art we kept coming across the work of Boris Vallejo who was a pioneer of the fantasy art movement. The reason it works for me is that, like the music, the aesthetic is so overblown and over the top and there's a certain sense of humor in it that I thought people would get, rather than trying to go really cool and modern with it. I wanted people to pick it up and say, What the hell is this?"
Mission accomplished. While the outside of the album rivals that van mural you always wanted of the girl in fur boots holding a broadsword and a chained polar bear atop a mountain in space, Moulton also collaborated with an eclectic group of musicians to create a unique sound combining electronic and live instruments. Collaborators include Groove Collective's Jonathan Maron, guitarist José Luis Pardo of Los Amigos Invisibles and keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.
"They're all good friends of mine, first and foremost," says Moulton. "For example, Roger is a composer with Expansion Team and signed to Expansion Team records, so we work together all the time. His legacy precedes him, as Beck's keyboard player and he's toured with Air. He's a vintage collecting nut and has more keyboards than anyone I know. So I sent him a rough track and he sent me back this solo that became the song. I just reworked the whole thing around it, it was so good. Overall, (the collaborations) were about trying to bring in some live and definitively funky element to an otherwise, very electronic arrangement."
If locking yourself in a room with a big bag of mushrooms, a gallon of Kool-Aid and a concept album isn't your idea of a fantastic Friday night, Moulton is playing a show at the Guggenheim in New York this Friday as part of the museum's "Art After Dark" series. While it's not all Exodus material, Moulton does plan on taking the record on the road in a series of shows being planned for late summer.