Lou Reed's new book The Raven, realised in collaboration with Lorenzo Mattotti, is the culmination of an Edgar Allen Poe appraisal the creative started in the year 2000.
Pairing up with legendary director Robert Wilson – who is currently overseeing The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic at Manchester's International Festival – Reed premiered his musical POEtry at Hamburg's Thalia Theater. The piece featured both the lyrics of great American author and poet Poe as well as the rocker's reinterpretations of them. "The language is difficult, because there are a lot of arcane words that probably no one knew that they meant, even at the time – architectural terms and whatnot," Reed says. "So I spent a lot of time with the dictionary, to make it more contemporary, easy to read. Or easier, I should say."
Reprising the musical with guests such as performance artist-turned-musician Laurie Anderson, whom Reed married in 2008, actor Willem Dafoe and David Bowie, a double CD, The Raven, was released in 2003.
It's eight years later a hardback tome compiling the songs, verses and narratives that built both projects arrives, going head-to-head with legendary Italian Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti, who imagines accompanying visuals.
Mattotti, born 1954, switched from studying architecture to become a graphic novel artist and released his first solo edition, Il Signor Spartaco back in 1982. Since then he has become regarded for his works Stigmate and Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde.
His enigmatic, brooding scenes harness the terror and beauty of the texts which span three centuries. They're uncompromising – and that's a quality that has always been applicable to the force that is Lou Reed.
Text by Dean Mayo Davies
The Raven is out now.