There are many composers and musicians world-wide within the realm of eerie and dark ambiance synth music. For some people, it is hard to contain creativity, even if they tried. Such is the case with French composer, Ludo Lejeune. Starting in the mid 1990’s, Ludo’s interpretations of deep and profound landscapes evoke a companion to such Human wanting of a sound for mental pictures. I can describe emotion, disturbance, sense of uncertainty, repulsion, fear and eeriness emanating from his creative sounds. It is as if a soundtrack for images in conjunction H.R. Giger in his paintings. Just imagine so.
Hails, Ludo! Let’s jump into it. There have been a million changes in technology since it’s early use in electronic music starting in the late 1960’s with electronic music pioneers such as Silver Apples, Jean-Michel Jarre and the German Kraurock scene among others. Please tell me about the origins of Melek-Tha and the foundation from which it was born.
Well, Melek-Tha was born in 1996, after several years doing intros for compilations and some bands, a friend of mine very connected industrial music and, ambient, asked me if I was doing a solo project, and I said to myself, “why not!” At first, I was looking for a name and the first one was “Northern Lord” and then I thought it sounded too Black Metal like and after some research, the name (Melek-Tha) was found and well, I liked that, it sounded good. Suddenly, a friend had started with me, Nicolas Foubert, who worked at Osmose Productions. He contributed to the photos ect, but not to the music. Then, after a lot of hours, Christian (from Adipocere records) contacted me and signed me for the first album “Astrum Argentinum.
Melek-Tha could be seen as a vehicle crossing through imagination. You have many references to H.P. Lovecraft in your works. Was that a catalyst for the origin of your compositions?
Not at all. At the beginning, to be honest, I was rather influenced by in Native Slaughter, Sielwolf, BDN etc… I just wanted to make long intros, very murky, very dark and minimalist.
When did you think to yourself “I want to do this”?
After buying my first Akai sampler, and some old synths. I started creating and recording live sessions directly on magnetic tapes and then, mini disk. I still wanted to keep a dark, very occult style
Has it always been you in this project or were there others at one time?
Melek-Tha is and will remain the only one.
When I first started listening to your works with Melek-Tha, my mind interpreted what it heard as “dark ambience”. That was a personal interpretation, however.
Yes, I like to create dark, hypnotic and repetitive atmospheres which can quickly become addictive, but sometimes with more melodic sounds, which is the case in my last albums, and some very occult albums sound like a sort of incantation, that calls for the forces of evil to wake up and come and destroy our putrid world. I have in the idea of making an album only with choirs and voices, a sort of mystical incantation.
In the 25 years since Melek-Tha’s inception, you have released over 70 releases. Some of them released in labels and some completely assembled by you.
Regarding the visuals of the albums, yes, I released a lot of handmade boxes with old cinema boxes, or wooden boxes with occult symbols made in resin, etc .. often the symbolism of the visuals reflects the music. I often do the visual (creation) before the music, after each one interprets as he wants, but it seems to me that often my visuals are a direct relationship with the music.
In regards to the imagery on the M.T. covers, what is it that you try to convey? By that I refer to the occasion a person looks at a cover by an artist, but when they hear the songs and sounds, it does not match the visual concept advertised on the cover.
It is true that in music, sometimes certain cover art is not directly related to the music offered. It is more often the case when the artist is known and he puts himself in a photo on the cover and voila, but for conceptual music, it is preferable to make a visual related to the music.
By your own definition in sight and sound. What connects the dots?
Well, I always try to make the images reflect the music, it is not always very obvious. At the beginning I fiddled with the sleeves myself with the means at hand, then computers arrived and it was easier for the creation. For some albums, I asked artists to do the (visual)creation, which brought a more professional and more beautiful note of interest. Artists like Valnoir, Jean Pascal Fournier, Chris Moyen, Horth and Alex Shadrin, brought a note darker to my music
Was 1996’s “Astrum Argentinum”, your first release, something that you would see Melek-Tha continuing almost 25 years alter?
Oh no, I was thinking at the time of doing one or two and voila! at the same time I released a lot of limited edition albums with very special packaging! and the years went by and here we are in 2020.
Briefly reverting back to my first question in regards to electronics in music, what is different between what you used them and currently and more importantly, how has it influenced you?
I have listened to Klaus Schultze, Kraftwerk a lot of other similar sounds, and even if you can’t feel that kind of sounds in Melek-Tha, it influenced me for the very repetitive and minimalist side of my sounds…
If you would, please give our readers an idea of what happens when you sit down to materialize your idea for a track.
I can’t really explain it. I think about it during the night and the next day, I open some blank tracks, I start to put a sound on it, and it goes ongoing, I know what I want to do, nothing is written, and sometimes, I can almost make a complete album in one or two days, finally the basics, after I add and add sounds, vocals, drums ect …
You have done several intro contributions to many other bands, mainly in Black and Death Metal. Which ones are you proudest of?
Yes, a lot,.Most of the time only groups with which I am in contact and friends, especially. There is not really one more important than the other. I recently made sounds or intros for infernal execration, Serpents Oath, Acheron, Phalanx Inferno, Kaos Dei, Bliss of Flesh etc.
On that note, have you done Black or Death Metal works yourself?
Melek-Tha’s compositions tend to be over the regular playing time for a song. Yet, these are not songs. What makes the composition require an extended playing time?
As I often say, Melek-Tha is an immersion into a dark universe, and 3 or 4 minutes cannot make you feel the oppressive fall in the meanders of Hell. That is why often the songs, or rather the parts, of everything is much longer.
I try to create like a film soundtrack that does not exist… and that the imagination of the listener interprets as he wants the sound maelstrom that I propose to him
Would you say there are classical music influences from Beethoven and Wagner used when you begin to lay down ideas? To that I refer to because of the parts where it is felt that intensity is rising.
Yes, for the side rise in power of the songs! until the peak of sound after. Classical music also influences my compositions at the level of choirs. These choirs I create with various software and synthesizers.
I’d like to go over your newest two releases, the incoming ‘Manifestations Lugubres” and the collaboration with Dolorism, Nicolas Horvath and Horth. How are they different from one another?
Already there! This is something that was not planned, but with the covid, I was like a lot of people shut down and come finished in my house for several weeks … and I started to create sounds for an album, and more the time passed more the pieces followed one another, the arrival of Dolorism with which I made a lot of albums boosted the project even more. Then, my friend Horth from Russia joined us and then, Nicolas Horvath (a great pianist with whom I also made albums with). Suddenly, the project became a crazy thing of 6 cds and a lp. It is in two parts two cd and lp, and then 4 cds, but the whole is a long dark, burlesque, hypnotic and psychotic journey. It is based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.
In all the years Melek-Tha has been active, have you ever felt that you have “opened a door” in a way for the present day liking of works in your genre?
I don’t think so, I’m a UFO I think, in this style. I have a lot of real fans, but since I’m not trying to be really well known, I’m really an underground project, and I like it that way
What type of music or sounds do you feel are the anti-thesis, the opposing force, to completing a Melek-Tha set of works?
Melek-Tha is not pop, rap, variety, metal, etc… I am not the antithesis of something, or of a genre, I am the nothing of all.
There are times when the mixes sound as if a soundtrack, as if they were the reason they were created for. Recently, I watched “Metropolis” with some of your works as the audio and it worked perfectly as a match.
Yes, that’s it! Most of my albums have a common thread: they’re all like a concept album, and each album can be the soundtrack of a movie, anyway that’s what I’m trying to do.
Let’s go over what was a little different in approach: 2003’s “Death of Attahualpa”. My understanding is that it was a soundtrack for a video or film? Please tell me more about that.
It clicked after seeing a film on the Incas, and suddenly I have probably transcribed in music, well in soundscape, what I saw in images. That’s why it is different, but I love this album.
The sense of futurism was something I felt was in your compostions, as if viewing a Warhammer battle scene in the flesh.
A person sits and plays one of your tracks. The reaction is…
The listening experience: listen to 1 track compared to listening to all.
In linking the above questions with this one, a listener may get a different understanding what you originally had in mind.
Yes, undoubtedly. Each one interprets as he wants what he listens, and the context of the listening is very important, you cannot feel the same thing in the complete darkness, as during the day or, if you are really in listening mode without doing anything else, or that you read at the same time etc…
World-wide, what places are more appreciative of your works? Have you found that Europe is more into your releases or not?
Impossible to know. This kind of music was a little more fashionable a few years ago with the big movement of dark ambient, and then not much since. Except that Black Metal has for some time incorporated passages in small doses of dark ambient. Suddenly, more people in Europe listen to this genre!
Purity of a form of music versus a dilution in mixing it with other genres. What works for you and what doesn’t?
This kind of musical concept can be mixed with many forms of music, Black Metal is very appropriate given the dark side of this music, but with Death Metal, we can also place parts between songs, sometimes it is possible to put in the background some passages mixed with a different style,
On the other hand I think it is better to listen as such, without trying to mix it with other styles.
What has M.T. Meant for you and how much further do you want to go with it?
Melek-Tha is for me the music that I wanted to listen to coming from others, not finding it, I wanted to create it, I still hope to improve this style, keeping a personal identity, and I love to do collaborations with other people, it’s a pleasure to do split albums with Dolorism, Horth and Nicolas Horvath and also Phalanx Inferno among others. I still hope to have the passion to continue to generate albums. 2021 will see several new albums.
then… we’ll see…
Anything you wish to add?
A big thank you to you, Stewart, for this interview. I would also like to thank all the artists and friends who help me through their voice so that Melek-Tha takes another dimension, I want to say thank you to the following: DEACON D (Hetroertzen), Haris (Swamp), Alex Shadrin for voice & art (Sickrites ect,), Horth for all the artworks he has done for me during all his years (Sickrites, Orthodox ect), Affectus (Corona Barathri), Fausto Culto, TES Reoth (Serpents Oath) & Lilith for the vocals, Vincent Crowley (ex- Acheron) as well as all the groups I have worked with: Infernal Execration, Serpents Oath, Acheron, Dolorism, Nicolsa Horvath, Xa-Mul, Nazxul, Phalanx Inferno, 47 Ashes (my old friend Pierro), Yan Arexis, Sonne Adam, The Amenta, The Day of the Beast, Kaos Dei, Bliss of Flesh, and many more.
Also, a thank you to my brothers, Arnaud Battez for his help during his years, Herve Herbaut (Osmose Productions), Steff for pictures, and thank you to the fans of always… 2021 will see the day of several albums as dark as each other… THANKS
Planned Melek-Tha albums for 2021.
The Fall of your Idoll (double cd)
HP Lovecraft end of opus.. (3 cds with Dolorism)
Infernalis Tenebrae (cd on black mara records)
Triumph of Death (double cd in collaboration with Maltkross Records, Abhorrent Creation (tape & me)
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