Jean-Marc Lederman is an artist who’s pedigree in music is undisputable. Aside from his composition work he has played with bands like The The, Fad Gadget, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Weathermen, and Front 242. Take a moment to absorb that resume to understand the scope of his career. As an artist where do you go to break new ground that can still inspire and challenge? With this album he has found a multimedia experience that raises the bar of expression in sound. It comes in the form of a package including a 36 page image book by Erica Hinyot. and texts by Philippe Genion , Ceratomia and the comic writer and singer Christina Z. 24 original tracks with a diverse cast of musicians spanning wide the breadth of genre . The tracks are varied but tied together by an insistence of craft and quality. Ambitious while relatable to a central concept. In this time of quick hit pop singles, this 2 cd package is relying on a hunger for intellectual art.
The premise is concise, yet deep as the earliest longings of humanity for answers to questions beyond proof. To write a letter to faceless entities of the gnostic realm. Each “letter” is penned by a different artist with a human voice beseeching the beyond of angels and demons. Some with pleading, others with snark, but each is a revealing correspondence with a human voice. I also love the idea of letters. We live in a digital age of texts and snippets. Putting pen to paper holds a power. The energy of will and intent made into matter. I will give thoughts of some of the songs that struck me hardest. This is a concept album, I strongly suggest listening front to back in the order Jean-Marc intended. Everything you are hearing has purpose and is best absorbed through that lens.
Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan – This gentle ballad from the Gene Loves Jezebel members is full of defiance. Beautiful harmonies and lush layering. Aston’s voice has always had a calming and sparking effect. These gentle string plucks vibrate the wave of angelic harps. I don’t believe in angels, don’t need angels. A masterful portrayal of indecision in the face of unanswerable questions.
Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon – Jenna does vocals and music for several wonderful projects including HAD TO KILL, THE SIREN AND THE VOID, SOPHIE STRYCHNINE. This cover of Nick Cave is a warm and tender hymn stripped down and soulful. Beautiful pads that seem to have a beating heart behind the honey rich voice.
Letter From Tom Shear – The vocalist Of Assemblage23 offers this pleading call to the void in a moment without control. A rolling tide of humming synth work with a David Gahan flavor. I love the steady build and poetic intention. The sensual beauty of feeling lost and wanting more.
Letter From Mark Hockings – Artists of Warner Chappell Music this letter again focusing on the marching feet of a human who asks for no help or quarter. I love the vocal changes in effect to add weight to this prayer which says I help myself. The music crackles and glitches to add a dynamic backdrop to this pronouncement.
Letter From Rodney Orpheus – The Cassandra Complex star strays far from his goth roots to give a tongue and cheek lounge song in purgatory with all the sass of Jarvis Cocker. Dark gallows humor as stinging as it is playful. Organic open room piano with marimba , and tamborims that makes heaven feel like a smokey lounge in Las Vegas. I kept coming back to this track again and again.
Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson – I couldn’t find a lot of information about their other musical projects. I really love this track though. The vocals have a very Magnetic Fields feel and a brit pop ring. A hope and fear at the same time “I’m scared of waking up with open eyes” Lovely and brimming with emotion.
Letter From Emileigh Rohn – This beautiful track comes from a fellow Michigan resident of the band Chiasm. Breathy and hopeful with an enticing whisper. Hard dynamic shifts in the changes here. I love the computerized vocal effects which add a different layer to the concept. I love how abrupt the ending comes upon you when you don’t expect it.
Letter From Claus Larsen – The amazing person behind Leatherstrip stepping so far outside the box of what I am used to in his art. This track is driving and uplifting. Leaving behind the chains of life and reaching skyward. Claus shows the amazing range of his voice and it is clear and ringing. What a glorious and bold exploration of two great artists reaching into uncharted ground for both and create something wonderous.
Overall this double album is such a journey. It brings each artist out of their comfort zone and stretches in so many bold directions. It really runs the breadth of human emotion while struggling with the biggest questions of life, death, and divinity. I review a lot of music and always tend to find things I love in most albums. I steer my reviews to focus on those aspects because making art is hard. I find it difficult to judge beyond what something makes me feel. Every so often though someone of immense talent comes up with a concept which challenges the mind. Has a carefully constructed well done musical vehicle. Is full of soul and emotion and pulls on the heart strings of the listener. Doing all three is a rare gem in this day and age. So please feel the weight of me saying this is what Jean Marc Lederman has accomplished. It’s a feat worth celebrating and definitely worth owning in it’s full form.
01. Intro Log By 8 Of Nine
Letter From Agi Taralas
Letter From Emma Barson
04. Letter From Ghost & Writer ft. Jo Quail
Letter From Mari Kattman
06. Letter From JP Aston ft. Julianne Regan
Letter From Coline Wauters
Letter From Christina Z
09. Letter From The Vintage
Letter From Lucia Fairfull
Letter From Stefan Netschio
Letter From Hunter S. Thompson
Letter From Elena Alice Fossi
Letter From Tom Shear
Letter From Mark Hockings
04. Into My Arms ft. Jenna Fearon
Letter From Emileigh Rohn
06. Letter From Miriam Christina
07. Letter From Haydn Park-Patterson
Letter From Rodney Orpheus
Letter From Louise Fraser
Letter From Lis Van Den Akker
Letter From Claus Larsen
Outro From Friedrich Nietzsche