by Jean-Marc Lederman Experience
It is from gloom-laden antiquity that the Jean-Marc Lederman Experience brings forth the latest compilation album, The Raven, featuring some of the most well known names in the Gothic Industrial soundscape. 13 tracks inspired and adapted from the works of Byron, Shelley, Poe, and even cinema from the Classic Hollywood era, this album has something that will appeal to all tastes and appetites, no matter how dark.
The man behind the project is Jean-Marc Lederman, a Belgian better known as Jimmy-Joe Snark III of The Weatherman. A man who’s placed his name on a variety of projects throughout the last few decades Lederman has been refining his craft since he was 18, and was first inspired by electronic luminary Brian Eno. Some notable projects of his include Gene Loves Jezebel, The The, and Fad Gadget. On this album, he has brought together some great minds and song-scribes such as Christopher Hall, Mari Kattman, and Emileigh Rohn.
Mari Kattman of Helix opens the album with “The Cold Heart Slept Below”. The track, the title of which alludes to The Telltale Heart, opens with a backdrop of a clock ticking steadily before the main beat and Kattman’s entrance. The track has a wonderful, almost dark-jazz type element that marries well with Kattmans vocals.
Conrad Aikens poem “The Vampire” is the inspiration of the second track of the same name by Stabbing Westward. Christopher Hall conjures bloodthirsty fiends and the struggle to escape them which is destined to be a fan favorite on the album. There’s no hint of cringe-inducing melodrama here, only the story of a creature that is going to rip you apart and eat what it finds inside. “The Vampire” would be equally at home on any Halloween playlist or any other time of the year on the dance floor of whatever Goth-Industrial night is smart and lucky enough to play it. Stabbing Westward never disappoints.
Unique among the tracks are numbers 3 and 13 respectively as these are not merely inspired by past works but adapt them completely to musical form. Track 3 “She Walks in Beauty” performed by Mark Hocking‘s band Mesh is a full adaptation of the Lord Byron poem of the same name. The albums final track is a musical adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” by Magnesium Burn‘s Christina Z. Both of these are fun to listen to and amount more to a reading of the aforementioned works set to music done in each artists style. Similar to the two aforementioned tracks is “Frankenstein” by Dr. Strangefryer. The lyrics of the song are made up of prose from Mary Shelley’s book. The accompanying industrial music fits well with the scene of Dr. Frankenstein witnessing his creature awaken for the first time.
Track 9 features Sound’s and Shadows own Duchess. Ken Magerman, and his band Amaranth. “Crushing Weight” is the bands take on Poe’s “The Raven” rebooted as a modern day panic attack brought about by the phantom bird visiting an introverted and reclusive Poe. Magerman‘s echoing vocals eerily convey the mood and essence of the man’s frantic uncertainty as he is buried beneath the inescapable truth the bird portends.
Stefan Netschio provides a personal nostalgia trip for me on track 11, “Smouldering Corpse In The Mourning Sun”. An avid listener of Stefan Netschio‘s band Beborn Beton since my teenage years he has long been able to bring a darkly elegant sound to every project he is a part of.
Emileigh Rohn, or Chiasm as she is better known in the Goth-Industrial world, sings a rendition of “Pretty Fly” in track 12. Originating during the classic age of Cinema in the 1955 horror film “The Night of the Hunter”, this spooky lullaby is sung by a little girl named Pearl to her brother as they drift down a river at night, pursued by a serial killer preacher. Rohn‘s rendition of it is just as dreamlike and spooky and remains my favorite track on the entire album. At only 2 minutes and 16 seconds the track is the shortest on the album but is not to be overlooked.
Beyond this, there is a lot more to the album, the stories it has tell tell definitely make it worth a listen. Ancient poems and macabre tales from the past conveyed through the filter of modern day dark wave artists is a natural enough pairing in itself, but Jean-Marc taps into something special here. Edgar Allen Poe and his works have long been inspiration for the thematically darker artists that have come after, but my personal intrigue was stoked by the other sources that were drawn upon for the creation of this album, and it is in their adaptation that it’s charm truly lies.
Interview With Jean-Marc Lederman:
James: What was it that inspired the other sources of the album beyond Poe?
JM: I wanted to do something darker than my usual work and had the idea to take several
writings from the goth authors to oblige me to turn more somber.
I was of course well on point about goth and goth culture (for Christ’s sake, Peter Murphy
slept in my mother’s bed, she wasn’t in it, back late 80’s) but started to read and
document myself more on the subject of goth in art and literature, which is the way I
always do when I start a new album: I want to dig more into the album concept, and
doing so I learn and discover more about it, its surroundings and the areas I could expand
to. The concept always evolves from a genuine interest I develop about something or a
certain frame of work I want me to discipline into. Or an idea I find funny and a possible
vehicle for a cool album.
And at the end of the adventure, I want my listeners, the artists involved and myself to
have a solid, bold and interesting album to dive in.
So, I compiled texts from the usual suspects (Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, …) but also less
known authors like the US author Percy Byshee Shelley. But some are total outsiders of
the known authors, like the one Jean-Luc Demeyer (F242, of course) picked up: a very
unknown early dark ages french poet.
But I didn’t want the influence to be only about texts, but also insights from the other
arts, like cinema (Night of The Hunter, horror movies, etc…) or even architecture and
Eventually, the scope moved to be about dark sides, being them in us, in nature, in
mythology…So, while it started being about goth culture, it ended up being much larger
James: Were they pieces that resonated with you personally?
JM: Yes, I cannot work for something I’m not passionate about.
All the pieces are equally resonating with me even though I do have some tracks I favor
because there the magic really worked: “Pretty Fly” with the very talented Emileigh Rohn
(from US band Chiasm) is a good example. I have wanted to cover that song from that
incredible movie for years and Emileigh just nailed it in a single take. But all tracks are
special to me: I wouldn’t put them in the album if it wasn’t resonating strongly in me.
James: How much input were the artists given in their contributions to this album?
JM: Pretty much all control. I would contact singers and ask them if they wanted to participate. They had really quite
a lot of freedom, the main idea being for them to sing or recite something which would
represent some gothic /dark aspects for them. If they were game, I would then send them
a poem or a writing and the music customized for them. Some would jump in straight
away, some would ask for a different text (or different music) so I would let them choose
a text or even write one on their own.
I wouldn’t dare have an artist being unhappy about his work: they have the last call on
the mixes of course. With some it’s very easy, they love it and it’s wrapped in a few days,
for some it takes a few “trial and errors” before we get to a mix we are both happy with.
James: Was there much discussion with them regarding the songs they were to craft and the
individual inspirational sources?
JM: The texts were only proposals and so was the music I would created for them.
I think artists like to work with me because they know I’ll tailor things around them. One
of the main reviews feedback I have from my collaborative works is how the song and the
singer are so embedded into each other: one can really feel it’s been fine tuned around
the voice and the end result is strong because of that. It’s not a voice being dropped in a
song, it’s a coherent musical universe.
James: Or were they involved in the selection of the topic?
JM: The freedom given to the artists make them very proactive: some created their own lyrics
(Lis Van Den Akker, Azam Ali,Chrystopher Hall, Ken Magerman,Jim Semonik, Stefan
Netschio), some glued very much to the text (Christina Z and her dazzling performance of
The Rave (Poe) which was in fact the 1st track done on the album, Mari Kattman, Elena
Alice Fossi, Mark Hockings, Dr Strangefryer, Jean-Luc De Meyer)
James: Given the sheer amount of darker literature throughout history, were there song ideas
that were cut and would you ever consider doing a sequel album to this one, inspired by
other literary or cinematic works?
JM: Oh yes, there are ideas that weren’t used. It always happens when you embark on
projects like this: you search, you find, you complete…but sometimes it just doesn’t work,
whether it is the text or the music but it’s the rule of the game: not everything can work
out, you need to allow yourself space for failures in order to achieve your vision/the vision
of the other artists.
A sequel would be so not like me 🙂
You can purchase the album on bandcamp from COP International.
By James Kelly