|POESIE NOIRE: ALL OR NOTHING
|by Jan Landuyt
Was this guy a couple of months ago also not in this
magazine?? Yes he was. Poesie Noire releases a new album
on the 10th of november and according to the people
who have already heard it "Love Is Colder Than Death"
is a masterpiece. Jan Landuyt looked in the eyes of "
La bête Noire" and asked him some questions.
Jo Casters has thrown away his pseudonyms. The new
Poesie Noire album "Love Is Colder Than Death" is a
brilliant album,Jo sings with a stunning/oppressing
voice (a revelation) and he goes to a place called
heaven/hell, a place where his heroes (Lou Reed, Matt
Johnson, Leonard Cohen) like to hang out. The road has
been long and meandering. When I went through the
discography of the band I was surprised of the extent
of and the succes of the band.
When Poesie Noire started 5 years ago, was the interest
in the Belgian independent scene almost gone, but the
band (in those days I thought Poesie Noire was a
Walloon bombastic band) got alot of attention of the
They performed 3 times live for the national
television,the mini-album "The Gioconda smile" (they
sold 5000 copies of it)was played a lot by Gust de
Coster(famous "alternative" DJ on national radio) and
they played lots of concerts (around 80 in their first
Discothequehits in Spain and France,a song in the
American dance charts and a cultstatus in DJworld
(Poesie Noire and A Split Second are still the
inventors of New Beat for the DJ's)
The first part in the development of Poesie Noire
exists of 3 D's:Despair,Distress and Doom.
Instead of following the EBMtrail they chosea more
poppy identity with a lot of attention for subtle
arrangements and meaningfull lyrics.
Jo casters tries to prove me the opposit and plays me
a song of the Tales Of doom album.
I hear indeed a noisy gitair and metalsounds and Jo is
shouting a bit harder then elswhere, but the industrial
elements are still the ingredients that nowhere break
through the structure of the songs.
Only In Sotto Voce (not a Yugoslavian band at
all.... Jo: "Antler was looking for a Yugoslavian band
cuase they sell well these days. A reviewer of "De
Morgen" (Belgian newspaper) went to Ljubljana and
searched for days to find any clue on In Sotto
Voce....and Luc Janssen hated Poesie Noire"... likes
it a lot.) makes harsh soundscapes.
He would like to make a soundtrack,but noone asked him
to make one ("people" think my music is too intrusive").
The album "tetra" sounded very cosmic.Tetra was about
the 4 elements. It's strange that lots of doombands
(Psychic TV, SPK, Nocturnal Emissions,...) wants to
philosophize.Lots of philosophic subjects have always
been very popular.Things like Zen-Buddhism,the
theories of Jung..etc etc are easily to reduce to
"I had just read the I-ching during that period and I
tried to translate that into music. I've always been
facinated by things like reincarnation and death..they
are the leading thread through the whole work of
First we wanted to make 4 "Tetra" albums, but after the
first one,we thought we said enough about the subject.
We also received lots of criticism, cause many people
thought the album was too prententious. Some poets and
2 American collegeprofessors wrote me letters in which
they analysed the lyrics and stuff like that, but most
of the time people didn't understand what it was
I thought the record would be selling very well in
France,cause they have labels like Sordide
Sentimental, but noone seemed to understand the record.
The French always divided us in the gothic wave scene
with bands like The Mission, The Cure and The Sisters
Of mercy. Our public there was a "black dressed" public
and they didn't like the music changes of Poesie
Noire, although I was still wearing my long black coats
and my black lipstick."
Jo Casters says he made, during his New Beat period,
one of the best New Beat records ever released.
Although he made some good stuff like the
Brothers On Acid album or the New Acid house Techno
compilation, I don't agree with him.
I prefer the New Beat stuff of Inger/Khan (Maurice
Engelen from Antler). I ask Jo why bands like Poesie
Noire or A Split Second after releasing songs like
Beat About The Bush, Restraint or Tame, where they mixed
rock with New Beat; why they didn't continue in that
direction, because I think Jo has talent and can even
compare with Derrick May or Juan Atkins.
Jo:"It was possible...but I have always been honest
when I was making songs for Poesie Noire and the
records are a reflection of the things that are
happening in my life. And I made already lots of
danceable stuff, so that I didn't want to write a new
song for the new album in that direction. I have at
home still some stuff with very hard beats in it and
maybe I release it some day,but there is no place for
it in the project Poesie Noire where lyrics are an
important thing.Besides....if you wanna survive you
have to make easy selling products. From the Brothers
On Acid album we sold only 300 copies.
"I think it's difficult to make the difference between
the "Head" project (Jo points with his finger to his
head) and the things in the New Beat bussiness.
Everybody is bit schizophrenic,you behave at work
different as at home,no?I wrote the lyrics of the new
album during the free time when I was recording New
Beat stuff, the changes were very important. After the
minimalistic "Do You Wanna Fuck Me "period writing
some real lyrics and working with real guitars again
Most new beat producers aren't able to do it, they all
wanna write the new "Pump Up The Volume" or the new
"French Kiss". I have the ambition to prove myself on
different levels. Love Is Colder Than Death feels like
it's my first album again. Some people say that I am
not a very good songwriter, that I don't have a good
voice,that I can only make noise, but I am glad that I
had the guts to make a homogeneous album with
sensitive songs on it."
Casters used to say to the press:"fuck guitars,vive
electronics, but now it's the other way round,no more
electronica, it's fun to play with "real" instruments."
But Casters lies here again,on this record the
instruments sounds acoustic, but they were created
electronic. In the press-release the
"electronicahaters" are pleased with what they
hear,but they are in fact being fooled.
Electronic or not, it doesn't matter,the record is a
beauty and can easily stand next to the work of Lou
Reed, Leonard Cohen, The The, Jesus and Mary Chain etc
Jo admits he uses a lot of songstructures of The
Velvet Underground.In some songs the combination of
the dark male voice and the soft female voice reminds
me of the records of Leonard Cohen. Jo's voice on "Love
Is Colder than death" is a revelation. Singinglessons??
"No,I don't have the technique to do that. You have to
make a strong point of the weak points in your voice.
Bob Dylan has a lousy voice, but no trained singer can
sing like him.
The part of Ludo Camberlin, one of the most
underestimated producers of Belgium, was very
important.He stimulated me a lot in the studio. He is
very good in arrangements and finding the right sound
in a certain context. I find it shameful that his
contribution to the Belgian music is still
unrecognized. He didn't get any recognition for his
work with Neon Judgement, The Arch or The Streetducks."
There is a lot of going on in Leuven. Jo Produced the
new mini album of Men2nd, and he does the live mixing
on the Neon Judgement concerts. Also the names of
people like Roland Beelen or Ludo Camberlin are always
Jo: "The cooperation with those people gives you the
courage to continue with what you are doing. We learn a
lot of each other, bussinessway or about technical
stuff. That's why I can always say: all or nothing..."