Multi-talented keyboard player who stayed in the picutre through multiples
styles - going from jazz to progrock to electropop to ambient to jazzy elektronica
& lounge - and multiple decades - from the sixties up till now.
songs : Marc Moulin
Jaar : 2001
Record co. : EMI/Blue Note
Marc Moulin (son of a father-sociologist and mother-writer, and political
scientist himself) began his musical career as a pianist in jazz-circles. In the
sixties he started out with his own trio, which led him to a few prizes, an was
part of a quintet with Alex Scorier. As customary in the jazz-scene, he played
with many an American and local musician in ever changing line-ups (a number of
these co-musicians would later take part in his projects in the seventies). Especially
with guitar-player Philippe Cathérine there was a "click"
(Moulin would play on his records, and produce a few of them all through the seventies),
as both were looking for ways to bring n influences form rock, r&b and funk
into their jazz-music, following the example of the fusion of Miles Davis
(who has always been Marc Moulin's musical here, as he explains "He dealed
with his technical limitations by developing a style that was based more on soudn
than on technical virtuosity. He chose to play only the most beautiful notes,
instead of playing all the notes"). Thanks to a purchase of an electrical
piano, later a Wurlitzer, they started out experimenting with this kind of music.
Placebo became the band that Marc Moulin assembled (not to be confused
with the Brian Molko Placebo of a much more recent date): in that, he played his
Wurlitzer and clavinet alongside Nic Fisette (trumpet), Alex Scorier (sax), Richard
Rousselet (trumpet), Nicolas Kletchkwowsky (bass), Freddy Rottier (drums) and
Johnny Dover (sax). Later also Philippe Cathérine (guitar), Yvan de Souter
(bass) and Francis Weyer (see Francis Goya - guitar) would
be part of Placebo.
With this fusion band he recorded three albums: "Ball of Eyes"
in 1971 (of which the incrowd of the genre is still saying that it is "totally
unique sonically and ahead of its time compositionally"). At the time
of the second CD, not by accident entitled "1973" because it
was released in that same year, the compositions had become more abstract and
experimental, and it was also the first album in which Moulain could display his
newest acquisition : a Mini-Moog. This instrument took on a very central spot
in the third Placebo album in 1974, that went by the name "Placebo",
an LP that had Kirk Degiorgio (musician and producer, and inspirator of the reissue
at the end of the '90's of the three Placebo albums) saying: "it was clear
this wasn't one of those rare but over-rated funk albums with just one or two
killer tracks, this was something special. It had a highly polished, unique and
strangely modern sound that had depth and intelligence. It was part street, part
studio wizardry and above all it was funky as hell! ... A funk album with 70's
cop show horn arrangements, breaks and hip hop-style beats, killer Fender Rhodes
solos and synthesisers, all recorded in Brussels by a bunch of hitherto unknown
white dudes. How could I resist?".
Later on, a fourth album was even recorded, but it's not enterily clear which
reasons led to it never to be released. The last concerts of Placebo took place
Marc Moulin himself clearly downplays the importance of this band : "I
know the group has it's supporters, but I'm not too wild about Placebo myself.
I mainly here the mistakes that are in themusic. Some musicians didn't really
grasp what we were trying to do. You can hear that. And on top of that, the production
was awful, certainly for the drums and brass section. The band was mostly influenced
by British prog rock, such as Soft Machine. It was my luck that I managed to lay
my hands on one of the first mini-moogs: that set me up to mix electronika and
jazz for the first time".
Besides Placebo, Marc Moulin had another project running under the name "Sam
Suffy". In that, he tried to make music with drummer Bruno Castelluci
and trumpet-player Richard Rousselet to make jazz based on the theories of "musique
concrète" and collective inprovisation. One session of Sam Suffy was
also put on an album, in 1975. As the English label Counterpoint plugs the reissue
of this album: "Marc Moulin's seminal album, "Sam Suffy", was
recorded in 1974, yet sounds as modern as the latest offering from DJ Shadow,
Carl Craig or Air. ... Twenty five years later and "Sam Suffy" is in
big demand with dj's, beat-diggers, producers and devotees of undiscovered leftfield
sounds. This music is the blueprint for todays jazz-tinged experimentalists. Tracks
like "Tohubohu", "Le Saule" and "Le Beau Galop"
are destined for clubland's more adventurous dancefloors. Equally, "Sam Suffy"
is a sublime listening experience, taking the jazz flavour to another level and
providing the consummate chill out experience."
After these years in jazz (which also included a label calle Kamikaze which
published mostly avant-garde jazz), Marc Moulin steered his experiments with elektronic
into an enterily different direction: that of electropop and eurodisco. Together
with Dan Lacksman (another Moog-fanatic and producer)
and Michel Moers he founded the also very well known band Telex.
Later he did explain this step away from jazz for himself as "I wanted
to make music for everybody, wanted to get out of that little circle of connaisseurs
and gens branchés. I had the feeling I had done it all: jazz, fusion, experimental
music... I even performed music of LaMonte Young and obscure Japanese composers
at the PSK, you know. The only thing that was missing was ... something almost
After these adventures with Telex (which resounded far into the nineties) and
a number of productions of records of other people (including Lio,
Kid Montana, Anna Domino,
Alain Chamfort, Sparks, The Bowling Balls), Moulin
stepped down his musical activities considerably: in 1992 he released a modes
album named "Maessage", an collection of ambient pieces of music in
the style of Brian Eno's muzak. Besides all this, he developed a fruitful career
as a funny guy (making daily jokes on La Première in "le jeu des dictionnaires"),
author (La Surenchère, A la Recherche du Bémol ...) and column-writer
(in Télémoustique with a weekly column called "Humoeurs").
At the end of the nineties, there was a new musical surge, however, when he
got contacted by EMI to record a CD for them "in which I were to mix all
the genres that I've shown to be capable in, electronic music, jazz, house ...
into something new". To make the offer even more compelling, EMI opened up
it's legendary sublabel Blue Note for this. The actual result did take some time
to be finalized (until September 2001), but this had as a bonus that meanwhile
the album "Tourist" of St.Germain (or closer to home Sunzoo
Manley) had been released and enjoyed loads of succes with a somewhat similar
sound of music, although from a different direction (they mixed electronic music
with jazz musicians, instead of the other way round). The disadvantage was that
Marc Moulin had to defend himself at the release of his impressive Cd "Top
Secret" not to have jumped on a trend in an opportunistic way: "I
started working on Top Secret in Tempore Non suspecto, but the dance-part of Blue
Note existed already for a long time, such as US3 rf Eric Truffaz. Perhaps St.Germain
has opened some doors through which I can now also pass, although I think we make
a different sort of music", he told De Morgen. To la Libre Belgique he
used even stronger words: "Those who know me will believe me, and will
know that I've been doing this stuff for all my life. But there will always be
those kind of people who will ask Stevie Wonder why he is imitating Jamiroquai!".
Other than St.Germain there also weren't immediate plans to bring Top Secret to
For Top Secret Marc Moulin hired the forces again of Philip Cathérine
(guitar), Bert Joris (trumpet), Bart Maris (trumpet, fluegelhorn)
and Johan Vandendriessche (sax, drums). There were no samples uses (except
for a little one from his own Sam Suffy album), but with vocals of a singer called
Christa, which he had met during his duties as a jury-member on a talent
contest on RTBf. The result of all this was an contagious mixture of electronic
rhythms, jazz and loung, and included the radiohit "Into the dark".
The album is scheduled for release in no less than 42 countries.
A nice way to enc a biography of Marc Moulin is certainly the way in which
said Kirk Degiorgio concludes his ode to Mouin: "It's quite possible Marc
Moulin's influence on today's music scene is far greater than his relative lack
of intenational profile could ever suggest".
Buy CD's of this artist
- Placebo : Ball of Eyes (CBS, 1971)
- Placebo : 1973 (CBS, 1973)
- Placebo : Placebo (CBS, 1974)
- Sam Suffy (CBS, 1975)
- Picnic (Magic, 1986)
- Maessage (JM2, 1992)
- Sam Suffy (Counterpoint, 1999 - reissue)
- Marc Moulin: Placebo Sessions 1971-74 (Counterpoint, 1999 - reissue compilation)
- Top Secret (EMI / Blue Note, 2001)
Note : The releases with Telex are on the page of that
- More info and reviews of Marc Moulin's "Top
- bio of Marc Moulin and most of the Placebo-members at JazzinBelgium
- Counterpoint Records about the re-issues of Sam
Suffy and Placebo
- "Les humoeurs de Marc Moulin", his column in magazine Télé-Moustique,
is also published weekly at on the site of editor Luc
- MSN-special about Moulin
for the launch of "Top Secret"
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