Luder – Sonoluminescence – Review


Sonoluminescence (Small Stone)
by Craig Regala

Welcome to Small Stone Records’ 100th release. The label boss had been pondering how to mark the occasion, so he did himself a favor and released a cool disc he guitars on. Luder is a new band featuring the former singer/bass player of Slot, Sue Lott, with guitars from Phil Durr and Scott “Small Stone” Hamilton. Phil’s also played with Big Chief, Giant Brain, and Five Horse Johnson. Also: Eric Miller on drums from 5Horse and Novadriver. This has little to link it to the mighty Five Horse rock blues, it’s much more an outgrowth of shows done to promote the Slot release, Sweet Black Bear, a post-humous release on Small Stone in ’06. Slot’s guitarist, Billy Rivkin, died in ’95 with the record in the can, and his passing was impetus for it’s release. Ergo a band was needed for promotional reasons and for the joy of putting the music in front of the beered-up masses, so Phil and Scott answered the call.

Sonoluminescence is musically much closer to earlier Small Stone releases tagged alt.rock – say Roundhead, Perplexa, or especially Morsel, whose five-song EP’s opening cut was my favorite song of ’95. Chances are, if you lived in Ohio in the mid-’90s, you have a mix tape with the tune “Ocho” on it. Hey, the last song on that EP is titled “Lude,” just an “r” away… Luder’s similarities to Slot obviously start with Sue’s vocals and bass playing. Both have a cool surge pushing the flow, a pulsebeat to build on from her bass and voice. The lilting/lifting/roll bespeak Slot as a take-off point, but the rock part is Luder’s own.

And build they do. When I first heard this, I made a car copy so I could blast it. The car is the boombox of the travelin’ man. And this is a disc that has a ton of subtle, almost subliminal, stuff going on that needs some volume to bring it out. There are tunes here that belong in a modern noir flick as the heroine walks down a dark, rainy alley. Understated, then ominous, like a rock take on Portishead. Being rock, the guitars break out and things intensify but rarely release; the tension builds and the groove stays steady. This is reminiscent of the way Giant Brain build some of their material: Parts of the beds bear much knowledge of Funkadelic and the hip-hop guys who’ve learnt from ‘m, but in Luder, the syncopation is in service of bulked-up dream pop.

OK, don’t let all the talk up there chase you off the fact that these guys have an AC/DC t-shirt or two in the closet. “In Love with Love” has got a ker-chunka riff The Cult would steal wholesale, “Sewn Together” rolls up to the door like yr gonna hear Hendrix start in on how he’s gonna chop mountains down with his hands, and “The Pox” splits the difference between The Smashing Pumpkins and, oh, something off Robert Fripp’s Exposure. Cool, eh? Overall, the disc flows cleanly and is a perfect listen while driving the interstate at night to somewhere where you hope something’s gonna go right, but don’t quite know.