“You come back to Earth, as a ghost, for 24 hours. What do you do?”
That’s the simple yet intriguing question asked by Belgian industrial pioneer Jean-Marc Lederman to every vocalist and novelist joining his ’13 Ghost Stories’ project. Would you seek revenge towards those who wronged you? Would you try to fix your own wrongs? Would you seek out a loved one one last time? Maybe you would simply… float? Some responded with lyrics, others with vocals, while Lederman worked his magic to create the backing music for each track.
’13 Ghost Stories’ is an atmospheric listen, with depth and complexity. Eschewing the standard approach to song writing and using interesting harmonies, timings and structures. The vocalists used on this album, of which there are too many to list, add a wonderful element of variation throughout the album.
Although Jean-Marc Lederman may be known for his electronic and industrial work, this album is far more in the neo-classical realm than expected and could easily be lifted from a film soundtrack. There is a rich tapestry or instruments used on this, incorporating all kinds of sounds and textured to create something akin to a Thomas Newman score.
Now this album is a concept. 13 distinct stories. They are all different perspectives and are meant to be that way. But in a way this is it’s downfall, as the album as a whole lacks any cohesive mesh, and it feels like a catalogue of songs written in different places and in different mindsets, indeed even in different decades. The finished product comes out like a B-Sides album. In fact, it is not an album, it is a collection of songs.
That said, it is an interesting listen, and a unique part of his discography, which is no easy task 40 years in to a career. Whether this will resonate with fans as a singular piece of work, or just an oddity in an ever expanding CD collection, I have no idea. But I have to take my hat off to him for creating a piece of work that is a story, is music and is essentially art.