Exit
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Exit

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
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In Austin, the live music capitol of the world, among one of the most musically savvy and eclectic populations in the world, it is ridiculously easy to be almost entirely undiscovered. Although there are plenty of mediocre acts that float to the surface of the Austin music scene, there are even more good ones that have yet to garner the attention of even the musically plugged in.
Exit is one of these acts.

"The Way Out Is Through" is Exit's latest release that first made itself known floating around a small circle in Austin's electronic / industrial scene. It's easy to tell that the artist and his CD release, which hit the streets April 12th, is someone to pay attention to. Listening to "The Way Out Is Through" brought to my attention the odd feeling of familiarity with the music while at the same time remaining something that was very hard to pigeonhole into one myriad music genres that have sprouted up in the last decade.

Exit's sound is one that blends Edward Kaspell / Legendary Pink Dots-esque vocals with almost down-tempoish rhythms and old school new wave guitar work ala The Cure. Or at least that's what it does at times. The sound manages to keep a signature style throughout the CD while shifting through different influences through the tracks. Track one "This Is Your Year" has some very decidedly Reznor devolved sounds and structures to it but that only lasts on the forefront for the roughly minute and a half long it takes for the track to play through to completion.

Some of the songs on "The Way Out Is Through" bear a resemblance to old school industrial act Shriekback’s, Oil And Gold album. Others have a more acoustic guitar heavy sound in the way of Massive Attack, Dead Can Dance, or even certain Projekt label acts. If you noticed the wide gamut of music influences that I’m ascribing to Exit, it isn’t a matter of Exit being a sound alike act - rather it’s because Exit defies easy categorizing.
- darkaustin.com


Exit is Ben Londa, an Austinite with a penchant for the electro-industrial, and The Way Out Is Through mostly delivers on that. "This Is Your Year" rips things open with Londa invoking Trent Reznor over a grinding beat, à la "Head Like a Hole." More down tempo is "Slip," blending the Cure's sad lullabies with whispy vocals, while "12 April" is another dreary trip down a shady lane ("It's driven like a nail, forged theories of who you thought you were together"). "Under" slinks into slow-jam territory with its forlorn lyrics of love lost ("When she knows exactly how to make me smile, as she fears exactly how to leave me wide") and softly twiddled keys. Most of The Way Out worships at the altar of more ambient electro acts; in fact, the only real "industrial" song on the album is the opener. Still, Trent's sentiment can be found back at the end. The bleeps and blurps of the title track extend into a volley of sweeping vocals and guitar, spun with lyrics like "The only constants in my life now are a hope for nothing misconstrued, and an overwhelming desire to murder you." Whoa. - Austin Chronicle


Exit, or Ben Londa's one-man band, is a lighter version of something Trent Reznor might have attempted back in '94 or '95. "This Is Your Year" has just enough electro and industrial touches that make it interesting, although the repetition of the title track has a growling kind of voice sounding like a cross between the Cookie Monster and Rammstein. All is not lost, though. "Slip" is at the other end of the musical spectrum -- a somber and reflective tune that brings to mind the Cure circa Bloodflowers. Londa's songs are often hit and miss, the asset in direct proportion to how low his vocals and the arrangements go. Good example of this are "Understanding Our Razing" and "Under", both of which could put you under Londa's spell. At eight songs it's a bit stingy, perhaps, yet the lush, rich texture to the majority of tunes is its biggest selling point. And the almost ethereal "The Anchor in Your Sky" only reinforces that notion. - Pop Matters


Fans of Exit had to wait a long time for this album, and it was worth every minute. This is the album where everything comes together for Exit. The industrial and trip-hop leanings, the suggestive and slithering guitar and keyboard melodies, the lush ambient atmospherics, and the hypnotic acoustic guitar work are all present, weaving together in riveting and cohesive songs that are at once progressive and accessible. Propelled as always by his incisive and subtle lyrics, Londa also delivers his most purposeful and convincing vocal performance. A long time coming and one of the best, most well-crafted albums of the year. - CD Baby


All the work of one Ben Londa this is a peculiar record, and one which reveals its attractions slowly. The press release is amusing when admitting his previous attempts at publicity had been totally inept, but it also explains how the urged to finally get this record nailed down kept creeping up on him, being a project of merit that meant something; evolving and burrowing through his mind. Started a decade ago it finally falls out of the recorded mental prison and blinks ungratefully at the lights of attention.

‘This Is Your Year’ is grumpy ambient treachery with a pottering idea for a tune bubbling through it, which keeps you intrigued as the two approaches circle one another warily. Cool lyrics jump across the gathering bloodbath and yet set against such final ugliness we have the instantly warm embrace of ‘Slip’ which is as pretty as it is riddled with fabulous potential, as the slow-burn guitar is quite gorgeous. The breathy vocals mask a certain lack of tone, but it fits the mood easily enough. One man, two styles. Fair enough

‘12 April’ is rather fey, middling indie that lightly purrs along, with some chintzy keyboard tumbling alongside. ‘Understanding Our Razing’ flickers as though indie-dance will ignite, but it’s a crisp indie stance which emerges and creates a twinklier take on triphop motion ‘Under’ is equally strange in that it starts off seemingly slipshod,. The songs barely formed, yet the moment the vocal stride in it becomes a becoming whole, slightly slurred and nicely dozy. One man, a plethora of styles, but with a definite central and unifying vocal presence.

‘Forever Setting Sun’ introduces strings and a new, deeper feel at an interesting time, with lighter musical strains enhancing the lyrical intention. ‘The Anchor Is Your Sky’ is actually the weakest of them all to me and yet is the one in the press releases praised for ethereal charms. I appreciate why its simple, drowsy beauty appeals but to me this seems quite undemanding. The disquiet in ‘The Way Out Is Through’ is more notable, and involving, but once again he twists away into mischievous indiepop, uniting the circle with similar tendrils to the opening track, but some gracious piano merging with the skittering, itching melodic soup. It’s a curiously wordy pop song, elongated and sometimes as gritty as it can be syruppy, but it works brilliantly.

Not being a strictly Industrial, Ambient, Trance (etc) merchant, where working solo means creating variables of one musical strain, which is pretty simple to make work, he’s made things far harder for himself, but the results have been all the more worthwhile. In fact the only thing which will disappoint people who like the post-pop subtle and richly textured as this is, is the fact there’s just eight songs. Considering how long this has all taken him that can be considered skimpy, but hopefully the reality of how good it all is can inspire him to not just carry on but to maybe speed things up next time round?
- mickmercer.com


Ben Londa claims he’s not a
singer. So why is that he’s not
only singer and songwriter,
but keyboard player, guitarist
and drum machine programmer
for his one-man band,
Exit? Call it an independent
streak. “I was in a band for five years,” he says, “and I realized that in order for things to be done my definition of “right,” I had to do it myself.”

It started with his first band at age 13. “I was an
obnoxious singer,” he says. Seeing himself surrounded
by people with instruments, he decided
he needed to play one, too. So he taught
himself – guitar, keyboards and songwriting.
“I’ve had no music classes at all,” he says. But
music comes so naturally to him, it’s like walking. “It’s
something I have done all my life, and something I
had to do. Even if no one listened to my music, I’d still
love to do it alone at home.”
Londa’s music, sometimes called gothic, sometimes
ethereal or dark wave, has attracted a small
following, and he hopes to grow his following big
enough someday to have enough support to release
albums without self-funding. “I just want to be heard.
I don’t care if I make a lot of money at it. I love doing
this and want people to love me doing it. I just want
to make enough money to put out records.”
So far he’s self-released four CDs, handling all
the writing, producing, design and marketing: “Dust”
(1997); “Abrupt” (1998); “Incidental Bedroom” (1999);
and “The Way Out Is Through” (2005). His MySpace
page, www.myspace.com/exitproductions mentions
a CD coming out this year, “The Blind Alley.” His lyrics
are thought-provoking, in keeping with his college
philosophy minor and general poetic bent.
But Londa admits to getting off track sometimes.
Currently he’s working as a real estate agent, since recently
moving back to Austin after a short New York
stint in the music industry. He says he’s done with the
industry and just wants to stick with his passion.
“I keep going back to it, thinking I should get a job
in the “real” industry, but I always get fed up with the
industry and disenchanted, and then end up not making
my own music,” he says. He inevitably finds when
he leaves the industry behind, his passion for his own
music returns. So once again, the industry is out, and
music is back in.
He often performs acoustically, but enjoys the
challenge of playing live in his “regular” shows. He
programs tracks in his laptop, and plays guitar and
sings over them.
When asked how he got started Londa says, “The
best item I ever purchased was a little 4-track recorder,
that was compact and cheap. It gave me a place to
start from.” Any aspiring musician should have today’s
equivalent, Londa says and also work at consistently
writing and evolving. His emphasis on his music
evolving explains why he hasn’t released a full album
in three years. He wants to get his songs to his level of
perfection before he commits them to a permanent
recording.
He has released a new single recently, Confessional,
that’s available on his MySpace page, and on
his website, www.staticlullabies.com. He’s an active
member of atxunderground.com and 2bentertainment.
com, a collection of local artists. There are about
18 musicians involved, he says, and the goal is to support
one another musically.
Besides his budding real estate career, Londa
works as a webmaster for the American Music Club, a
San Francisco band with a large following. He handles
all their merchandising and has worked with them for
a few years. A graduate of Southwestern University
in Georgetown, the Houston native is single. When
he’s not performing or working, he enjoys discovering
other local musicians and watching baseball. - Nu Magazine 10/2008


Exit, a one man project from singer-songwriter, Ben Londa, blends something close to the Legendary Pink Dots with downtempo rhythms and new wave guitar work. Londa, a recent transplant to New York City, has played and recorded mostly in Austin, Texas. On the band's debut recording, "The Way Out Is Through" and on stage Londa has, learned some lessons on setting up for a one man project. There are challenges in going it alone--not the least of which is that if you suck you cannot blame it on the drummer. Practicing your instrument with your complete live set up is a must. Just strumming away on the guitar will not do it.

"You are going to have a ton of kinks to work out before you can take it to a stage," says Londa." Don't rush, and talk to like-minded folks about their trials and errors and learn from them. Make it easy on yourself and pare down. The Line 6 POD is a great way to omit the bulk of amplifiers from your stage set-up. I rarely have to make any more than two trips to the car to get everything, and I have my set-up time down to about 10 minutes, which makes the soundman quite happy. Playing at a small club means you are probably playing with a multitude of bands - the quicker you can set up and tear down, the more liked you will be!"

Londa says that vocals have always been a problem for him live.

"I sing fairly quietly and soundmen are always fighting to keep the mic from feeding back but still make the vocals loud enough to not get lost in the mix. There have been a couple situations where it was a new soundman working with me and it just wasn't happening. My only option was to practically scream the words - so I guess you can say I didn't cope with it well, " says Londa "If at all possible, have your own soundman who knows your music well. This will always save your life on stage."

When it comes to the studio, Londa says to spend time experimenting and learning. Do not rush music out until you are truly happy with the results. With technology advancing as fast as it is you will always have new things to learn. Keeping up to date is huge for a band with one member. But there is more to it than just technology and gadgetry.

"My first record was recorded in 1995 on a Tascam four track, so yes I have learned quite a bit since then," says Londa. "As far as my most recent record, it was the first record I have made that I can still listen to! I did a lot of things differently on this one than on any others previously. The key is to make sure that the songs you are presenting aren't just studio wizardry - that they are good songs before anything else. Work really hard on your songwriting. It doesn't matter how many gadgets or effects or applications you have in the studio, if the songs aren't strong, they won't help."

Londa also keeps it simple on himself by using similar set ups live and in the studio. This can be a positively deadly combination if you do it without the practice mentioned earlier. Studio gear haphazardly tossed together on the stage have a tendency to work poorly in a live setting. Practice with your whole set up as if you are in front of an audience.

"Live, as I am a one-man band, I run backing tracks through a Sony Vaio laptop running a M-Audio firewire soundcard. An Ibanez electric and Ovation acoustic guitar are run through a Line6 POD-XT," says Londa. "In the studio, I make heavy use of the POD. I use a Roland XP-80 for keyboards. I record to a Sony Vaio desktop using an Aardvark 24/96 sound card and Sonar. Other various software applications are used for sound editing, beat and texture making, etc."

Londa says that if he has a single "secret weapon" it is the POD.

"I can't give this equipment enough props. Tons of preset amplifiers from all sorts of time periods, tons of effects - and everything is fully customizable. Built-in tuner. I love it." he says.

The Exit record was recorded direct through the Aardvark 24/96 Direct Pro, to Sonar on a Sony Vaio desktop. As Londa noted he heavily used the Line 6 POD for electric guitars but he also uses a DigiTech RP12 for some acoustic and vocal effects.

"I used a lot of Direct-X and VST plug-ins for outboard effects on guitars and vocals, as well. Sound Forge was my tool for sound editing after recording," he says "Acid 6.0 helped a bit with some looping. Roland XP-80 for keyboards and a couple small beat-making applications helped as well. Hammerhead is a great little drum machine - and it's free."

Londa plans to play in and around New York City soon. - Gearwire - 1/2007


A deft excursion into the realm of ineffable tenderness. Hopeful escapism... soul balm. Hypnotic, dreamy moods. Nicely wrought minimalist songs. The basic acoustic or electric guitar strumming seems somehow integral and necessary, with emotional import and subtle touches. Some tracks are more electronic, but still quite spare in arrangement. Overall, a fine effort that succeeds in its intent of making the rude world fall away. - Morbid Outlook - 11/2007


The Way Out Is Through was my first introduction to Exit and I was greatly impressed by what the album had to offer. Born in Austin, Texas, Ben Londa is the creative force behind Exit. Heavily influenced by artists such as Brian Eno, The Cure, Joy Division and David Bowie, The Way Out Is Through delivers a strong, stylish electro industrial punch. The album serves up eight well-crafted tracks as Ben Londa takes us on a very personal journey. Londa's strong vocal style, an evocative blend of Trent Reznor and Robert Smith, lends a sense of urgency to each of the tracks. The Way Out Is Through is the tenth album to be released by Ben Londa since he began his musical career back in 1995 with the release of Exit 1 . The opening track "This Is Your Year", although a strong track, seems a little out of place on this album, it is pure industrial aggression when the rest of the album is much more subdued. It almost feels as though the rest of the album was written and recorded at a different, more peaceful, time in Ben Londa's life than the opening track. That said the album is not spoiled by the out of place opening track. As an introduction to Ben Londa's music this album serves as a fine starting point. - Livid Looking Glass - 1/2007


Discography

The Blind Alley - 2013 (February release)
The Way Out Is Through - 2005

Photos

Bio

Exit was born in the mid-1990s out of Austin, Texas' Ben Londa's love of electronic music, particularly the ambient soundscapes of Global Communication and early Projekt Records releases. Meshing electronics with guitars, Londa began self-releasing albums at rapid speed. 2005's The Way Out Is Through showed Londa's maturity as a songwriter, garnering praise from publications all around the world. Merging acoustic guitars and electronics with elements of new wave and shoegaze, The Way Out Is Through has been described as "one of the best, most well-crafted albums of the year" by CD Baby and "a very important release and an artist to pay attention to" by Dark Austin.

2013 will bring Exit's next release, The Blind Alley, further showcasing the poignant lyricism and achingly beautiful music that made The Way Out Is Through such a success. The Blind Alley is the most cohesive and mature recording from Exit to date, and features guest appearances from Michael Plaster of Soul Whirling Somewhere (Projekt Records), Lisa Cuthbert (The Sisters Of Mercy), and Avi Ghosh (Art Versus Industry).

Exit performed at the Convergence 14 Festival in Tampa, Florida in 2008 and was an official South By Southwest showcasing artist in 2012. Notable acts that Exit has performed with include The Legendary Pink Dots, Wayne Hussey (of The Mission UK/The Sisters of Mercy), Miles Hunt (of The Wonderstuff), VAST, My Morning Jacket, Thanatos, Iris, CTRL and many, many others.

Exit is:
Benjamin Londa
Nathan Hewitt (The Holocaust Humanity)

Exit live is:
Benjamin Londa
Nathan Hewitt
Alex Virlios (Die Krupps All Stars, CTRL)
Patrik Nilsson (Panjoma)
Adam Jumper
Lisa Cuthbert (The Sisters Of Mercy)