Jean-Marc Lederman’s concept albums are a diverse set. Experimentation is at their core, but so is a cinematic sense of space and time. Whether exploiting the unpredictable qualities of The Bad Tempered Synthesizer or exploring the aquatic world of Night Music for Seahorses and Manatees, Lederman creates collections of stories in sound.
Soul Music for Zombies is the latest project from Lederman (Fad Gadget, The Weathermen, Kid Montana). Over eleven songs, it mines a rich vein of soul and blues; testing their elements in combinations with industrial, electronic and ambient tracks. If Screaming Jay Hawkins had access to a bank of synths, he might have come up with a take on “I Put a Spell on You” like Lederman’s, but only if he had spent decades absorbing the back catalogue of Front 242. Laurie Anderson is name-checked in “O Super(wo)man (nod to Laurie),” but Lederman hasn’t left the tracks: the song features a loop over a dance beat that belongs more to Soul Train than the Barbican.
Emileigh Rohn (Chiasma), Lederman’s partner on the recent Rage! album, appears for “The Music Walks Again.” Subtitled “The Robert Johnson Story,” the track features guitar samples and a take on the Faustian transaction undertaken by the influential guitarist. The Johnson origin story has a strong pull that reaches through the decades, but does the Dark Prince do similar deals for VSTs? Has Lederman met him at the intersection of Leopold II and Rue de Ribaucourt? That has been left to legend.
Soul Music for Zombies isn’t another version of Moby’s Play or Recoil’s Bloodline, but it shares their respect for the sounds of the original American underground. It also tests combinations of other styles, in a very European collision designed for both the undead and the living.