Music News

Marc Moulin

The subtle thud of electronic bass and the propulsive tap of a brushed high-hat cymbal underpin cool-jazz vibraphone, earthy organ, and sultry soul-diva vocals on "Into the Dark," the peppy opening cut from Marc Moulin's Top Secret. The brilliant blend of jazzy noodling and cool electronica is an apt update from Moulin, one of the first players to become accomplished on then-new Moogs in the late '60s. The producer/keyboardist/composer helped lay the fusion foundations of jazz-rock, including a partnership with noted guitarist Philip Catherine. Moulin later formed his own fusion septet while touring with American jazz stars such as Clark Terry and Don Byas before continuing his pioneering work as a founder of the seminal synth-disco trio Telex in 1978. On Top Secret, he draws from and updates his past work, blending elements of cool bop, bossa nova, and fusion with contemporary trip-hop and acid jazz to create a nostalgic-yet-modern gem.

Like "Into the Dark," the simply titled "Organ" balances an organic earnestness with soulful sampled vocals and a bumpin' backbeat. More languid is "Bottle," on which Moulin sets the tone with slow, deep organ topped with emotive jazz guitar, horn, and sax riffing. "In My Room" employs darker synth textures, while "Day Fever" offers delicate legato flute phrasing, both delivering a more somber tone. In contrast, a bright xylophone melody melts into sax vocalizations on "It's to Say," slyly slipping back and forth between the two before ushering in percolating piano and organ. "Feet" closes Top Secret with plodding bass, funky organ, and seductively plaintive muted trumpet. Yet a midtempo piano line buoys the somber undertone, making the song, like most of the others here, an equally good soundtrack for lazing around inside on a rainy day or driving the open road. Definitely a secret worth sharing.

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John Ferri