Eric Miller: Drums & Percussion
Sue Lott: Bass & Vox
Phil Dürr: Guitars & Things
Scott Hamilton: Guitars & Too Many Effect Pedals
Eric Hoegemeyer: Piano, Backing Vox, Percussion, Sounds
Vince Williams: Backing Vox, Screaming
Richard Watson: Backing Vox
Marshall Oliver: Backing Vox
Matthew Richards: Backing Vox
Recorded at Rustbelt Studios - Royal Oak, MI.
Recorded, Engineered, Mixed and Manipulated by Eric Hoegemeyer.
Produced by Eric Hoegemeyer and Luder.
Mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio - Ann Arbor, MI.
Artwork by Sue Lott & Matthew Richards at MOCHIMAD.
Textiles by The T-Shirt Guy - Roseville, MI.
All the tracks written by: Sue Lott, Eric Miller, Phil Dürr, Scott Hamilton, Eric Hoegemeyer.
Consistent with the hundredth album release of Small Stone Records, label owner Scott Hamilton took advantage of the opportunity to release the debut of LUDER, where he plays guitar and provides the sound with some effects. One thing is certain: LUDER is not your typical 1970's-infected riff rock band. Hardrock, funk, trip hop, psychedelic rock and more are fused together into a very dynamic, organic sound that you cannot pigeonhole. In the center of the music is the stunning vocal performance of bassist Sue Lott. Perhaps some of you remember Slot, where she was part of the lineup together with former LUDER drummer Eddie Alterman. Slot is another band on the Small Stone roster which differs totally from many other bands there. In the meantime, Eddie Alterman has been replaced by ex-Novadriver drummer Eric Miller, whereas Scott Hamilton and guitarist Phil Dürr (Big Chief, Giant Brain, Five Horse Johnson) belong to LUDER since the foundation in 2006. All in all, this is like a Small Stone family meeting, but at least it's an anniversary.
Due to the participating musicians, it is clear that 'Sonoluminescence' is a very individual album. As already mentioned before, it is not easy to put it into any pigeonhole. LUDER deliver the goods with a trance inducing sound where rock and pop are equal partners. With funky and tasteful grooves like on 'Sing To Me' and 'Selfish And Dumb' the diversity of this band really shines. At the same time, the songs are layered with crunchy riffs, modest guitar solos, and psychotropic effects. The emotional range on this disc is significant and especially Sue Lott sings with a kind of grace and dignity that is so crucial to the band's sound. She makes sure that 'Sonoluminescence' is ethereal and almost beyond this world. The production is flawless in both its audibility and its command of the album's mood. That's perhaps what I love the most about this album: the beautiful vocals and rich production leaves you wanting to revisit each track over and over again, each time leaving you with a new or different impression and/or understanding of LUDER's sound. It's a remarkable debut and can be particularly recommended for those who are open-minded towards heavy music that didn't care for current trends. Personally I like this album very much.
It's quite common for these days for a band or artist to form a label with a view to releasing their own product and, on occasion, the works of others. It's far less common, however, for someone to start a label and run it successfully for years before finding themselves in a band with some product of their own to release. This is the situation that Small Stone leading light, Scott Hamilton finds himself with Luder. Now, two things could potentially happen here; looking at the greater part of the Small Stone back catalogue it would be not unreasonable to assume that this will be an album of beer slamming, weed huffing, cap wearing, redneck rock and roll. The second assumption is that a music fan and good businessman does not necessarily a good musician make and that this could well be a case of "I've got a label so I'm going to use it" and the end result could be a large hessian sack of many hues of shit. With that in mind most people will not be expecting an album that, not only sounds like nothing else on the Small Stone roster but is literally incredible from the first note to the last.
Formed from the ashes of Slot after the untimely death of that band's guitarist Billy Rivkin and essentially to pay a one off tribute following Small Stone's release of their lost recordings, it was decided that the vibe was strong enough to continue under a different name and Luder was born featuring bassist/vocalist Sue Lott from Slot, Phil Durr from severely underrated 90's grunge funkers Big Chief and now also of Five Horse Johnson, former Novadriver and current Five Horse Johnson drummer Eric Miller and of course the aforementioned Mr. Hamilton. It is immediately apparent from the minute the laser hits the plastic that this is not a band that have grown up together doing bongs to Sabbath in their basement. Each member brings his or her own musical agenda to the table to weave together a vast range of musical influences, sometimes so disparate as to be confounding, into a cohesive, passionate and beautiful whole. This isn't metal by any stretch of the imagination but it's possessed of a depth and weight that is equal in heaviness to any of the badger faced Norwegian church burners but on a far more spiritual and emotional level.
Essentially Luder have no rules and no preconceptions about their sound, any idea is a good idea and the key aim to create exceptional music. Heavy riffs interlock with fluid bass lines and drums that groove and twist in an almost tribal fashion. Phil Durr and Scott Hamilton will often approach each song from an entirely different standpoint; a fuzzy stoner or metal riff may weave around a shimmering shoegazy line that evokes the spirit of My Bloody Valentine or The Cocteau Twins. The overall effect with the bass and drums is of a psychedelic Jane's Addiction at their most esoteric...think of some of the more "out there" ethnic moments from the "Ritual De Lo Habitual" album and you'll be, not necessarily in the same ball park but certainly in the right suburb to find the ball park. Musically, although this may twist and turn from the lazy psychedelia of "S-Words", to the almost jazzy inflections of "Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action" to the more stoner oriented grooves of "Selfish and Dumb" to the summery metal pop of "In Love With Love", it is Sue Lott's restrained vocals that hold this album together. Her breathy, sultry and seductive vocals serve to add a much needed counterpoint to the traditional rock band format that backs her voice up. Her deeply sensual style gives lyrics such as "you don't give a shit what I want" a gonad withering intensity that has so much more effect than any misdirected aimless aggression.
As sonically diverse and experimental as this album can be at times at its core lies a strong collection of very catchy, memorable and frankly awesome tunes. The aforementioned "Selfish and Dumb" comes close to Garbage's prime 90's output but exceeds it in terms of its immediate grasp on your senses. If this was released as a single with the right push behind it I have no doubt that this could bother the charts...if it wasn't for the band's contrary nature ensuring their most commercial tune is ridden with more "shits" than the toilets in a dysentery ward!!!!
So far 2010 has thrown up some real musical gems and this album sits right up there at the top with the best of them. Ironic then that, in many respects the music industry and sales of CDs are in decline just as music seems to be throwing up more albums actually worth spending money on. Small Stone have done it yet again...sucking in the 70's, hell no...fucking awesome in the here and now...damn right!!!!
It's a somewhat easy way to start a review to describe Luder as a psychedelic or stoner rock band but it also fits. I don't know about the band but I somewhat object to the label even though I'm the one using it. Because, to some people, a psychedelic band is band that you can perhaps only listen to if you're high on goofballs or have accidentally fallen into a giant bong. Which isn't fair really. But it is fair to say that music like this is enough in itself to sufficiently stimulate the senses to elicit such an altered state without resorting to dissolving powders of questionable origins directly onto the surface of one's eyeballs.
Luder are such a potent chemical made up of many elements most of which can be found in the half-light of pop, alternative, trip-hop and of course - the reason why we're all gathered here today - metal.
With its already off-kilter 5/4 time signature album starter 'Sing To Me' adds an extra layer of the unexpected with a vocal part not usually heard outside of a Wendy and Lisa album. It's a good start.
'S-Words' has a great hypnotic wraparound bass riff accompanied by a light trip-hop drumbeat and equally trippy vocals that wouldn't be out of place on a Martina Topley-Bird album. The track soon ODs with chest arresting guitar riffage over slow sizzling drums before falling back into the trippiness soon after.
'Selfish And Dumb' is a quite funky yet still trippy track, which somehow brings to mind The Stone Roses no doubt due to Sue Lott's lowly echoed vocals. 'Cold Hands, Warm Pants' employs another seriously groovy...well...groove. The guitar and drums dictate the tempo while the bass locomotes freely about like a sidewinder before the whole lot turns into a Sabbath-inspired black mass.
'The Pox' features the strangest of time signature that twists and turns, resists and defies any attempt to quantify or understand it. There are some great Zeppelin-isms in this track from the huge bass drum to the chordal work and eastern riffing. The song also features the liveliest chorus so far and has something of a Perry Farrell ring to it.
'Sewn Together' is another hugely addictive riff that you could listen to all day without ever missing the vocals. Album closer 'Soledad Y Onaismo' is Spanish by name and Spanish by nature. The acoustic guitars come out and the wooden drumsticks are temporarily put aside for the first half of the song. The relentless riffing is still present though transferring through each stage of guitar from acoustic to clean electric and finally cranked up to 10.
Luder have certainly got grooves aplenty and manage to successfully connect the more alternative end of the Indie scale with guitar-heavy metal. So with such great riffs and grooves surely the deciding factor will be whether you like this particular dreamy vocal style. And for that I hand Luder over to you.
- Russ P
YES there are still groups today atypical, and fortunately. Groups that have their own artistic universe, which does not copy and mimic anything, who have their own sensitivity and musicality. This is the case here with this group LUDER who released their first album "Sonoluminescence". Their bass player and singer SUE likes to repeat the phrase "I like music. So the first album I sincerely advise you to quickly make the acquisition to have a good overdose of post rock / metal in your beautiful club.
The four protagonists are therefore proposing a universe, a personal artistic direction, even if the influences can be seen: Queens Of The Stone Age, Curve, Elysian fields, Portishead, Tool, among others. From the kit also can feel their claws solar, and when the production is guaranteed 100% perfect, we enter with pleasure in their compositions. As well tell you now, the musical style is unusual among metal riffs, stoner hints or grungy, sometimes more languid title and trip / hop, we just wandered around in style A, theirs is a blend of all what they could swallow their influences. The strength of this album will be composed of all tremendously successful, which inspired the melodies haunt you day and night, leaving you only one way out: the Opus board loop again and again. The clean vocals of bassist plays with the contrast in the background. That sweet voice, soft, sensual, sits on a low far ahead, and post rock / metal background. Sometimes you have guidelines Oriental and Tribal, sometimes with touches of jazz, but it's done excellently.
How to explain this little UFO? Impossible. You just have to live because it is the emotion that ultimately will result. Perhaps the label "emotionalism post-rock grunge" would be appropriate.
This is a great indie rock and alternative. Certainly they play more on emotion than on violence and speed of execution, and that is exactly what appeals: This opens up the heady artistic excess, let you try, you'll thank me!
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.
- Craig Regala
A Lüder band is “a localized band of plastic deformation that can occur on some materials before fracture”. Welcome to the world of trying to Google for a relatively obscure group! Luder the band are something rather different, unsurprisingly, although etymology rears its head again – they claim in their MySpace biography that it’s German slang for “little shit”. Not sure what to make of that, really… but the album title is another science word that makes a little more sense in the context. Sonoluminescence (easier to say it than type it, kids) means “[a] luminescence excited in a substance by the passage of sound waves through it”. Noise becomes light – how’s that for a metaphor for the internet age, eh?
Now we’re done with matters of nomenclature (for those of you who’re still here), let’s talk music. Luder are the end result of a project from a few years back, when Small Stone decided to release the lost and lesser known tunes of an outfit called Slot in the wake of their guitarist’s untimely demise, and arranged for a partial reformation of the band to play SXSW. One thing led to another, they kept hanging out and jamming, and eventually they got round to making a whole album. Voila: Luder.
I reviewed that Slot album when it came out, but you don’t need to know Slot to appreciate Luder… in fact, Sue Lott’s voice is the only commonality you’d recognise immediately. However, Sonoluminescence is evidently an album put together with great affection for the aesthetics of early-nineties alt-rock from both sides of the pond, and if you still carry a candle for those days yourself, you’re going to appreciate this very much.
Kicking off, “Sing to Me” features queasy multilayered vocals from Lott, darkly groovy riffing… and sounds a lot like a female-fronted version of A Perfect Circle, to be honest. And that’s just fine from where I’m sitting. But it is uncannily like a tune off Mer De Noms… and not just because of that weirdly liquid guitar tone, either. Next, “S-Words” takes a more shoegazey approach, sounding sort of like Doppelganger-era Curve without the electronic bits and featuring a wistful stoned Suzanne Vega on guest vocals… it goes on for ages, but when it finally ends, you’re gutted.
And then “Selfish & Dumb”, which has a bitter-pop chorus to kill for and some Adam Jones-esque lead guitar hooks, and it’s by this point that Luder have me in the palm of their hand; this is the song that I so desperately wanted someone to record and release in 1992, the song that blends the dark metal of grunge with the sullen psychedelia of shoegaze. Granted, it ends on a fadeout. I hate fadeouts. But I forgive them anyway.
And at this point, I’m going to stop mentioning tracks individually, because if the preceding three descriptions haven’t sold you on Sonoluminescence, no amount of me making the same comparisons about the rest of the album is going to help. On the other hand, if you think those three tracks sound like just your cup of tea, then Luder have a whole hour of similar material just waiting for you, with the added bonus of featuring a track with the title “Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action”. Small Stone albums are very affordable, too, so go buy it.
Oh, you want a soundbite? Grungegaze. You heard it here first.
- The Editor
Luder's 2009 debut album, Sonoluminescence, takes you back to the oh-so-long-ago of, what, 1994 or so? Yes, it's difficult to believe that it's been that long already. But the alternative metal and shoegaze sounds emanating from Sonoluminescence's grooves evoke instant Technicolor flashbacks (well, tones of gray Technicolor, anyway) to that mid-‘90s sonic aesthetic -- as dated, yet as comfortable, as that grungy old Cardigan sweater you wore against your mother's protestations, until the very last string unraveled like some vision preordained in that damn Weezer song! But primarily, it's the confluence of Sue Slot's dreamy, haunting whispers and her bandmates' droning, angst-ridden darkness that breeds this familiarity, epitomized by tracks like "Selfish and Dumb," "The Pox," and particularly "S-Words," which sets progesterone-fueled Alice in Chains vocal harmonies against a circular riff backdrop direct from the Jane's Addiction toolkit. Evident influences aside, though, the members of Luder unfurl just enough unorthodox elements from their separate prior musical paths to give those templates some distinction, including classic, psychedelic, and stoner rock elements, metallic riff worship, and even a discreet power pop undercurrent that alleviates the exquisite torment of it all right about when you're reaching for the skip button (cue the gloriously depressing "Sewn Together"). For example, one of the more interesting songs, the amusingly named "Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action," drones on forebodingly for much of its lysergic eight minutes, but unexpectedly breaks out into a bouncy pop-punk midsection that feels as though it were painfully grafted on. "In Love with Love" also picks up the pace when you most needed it to, and the closing enigma of "Soledad y Onaismo" (err, "Solitude and Masturbation"?) travels a daunting road from its sparse acoustic beginnings to its Tool-like post-metal apocalypse (by way of a Sabians guitar solo -- look that one up!). In sum, as exercises in nostalgia go, Luder's Sonoluminescence feels pretty darn welcome when all is said and done, and it makes for a rather unrepresentative but memorable choice to serve as the Small Stone label's celebratory 100th release (owner Scott Hamilton is also one of Luder's two guitarists), which is no mean feat in today's troubled music industry.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
In the early to mid nineties the ethereal sound of female fronted indie rock seemed to be all the rage. Then much like the flannel shirts that defined the time the trend died out slowly.
Jump ahead fifteen years and enter the band Luder, a rock outfit that brings the idea of 90s female fronted indie rock into the present by adding a tinge of 70s power rock. The band’s newest studio offering “Soluminesence” is a bizarre album that sounds like it’s caught between two decades.
Don’t get me wrong, Soluminesence isn’t a carbon copy of anything else nor is it a rip off more precisely the record is a nod to two separate eras that have nothing to do with each other. Surprisingly Luder makes these styles work together to create a groove oriented sound that’s wound together with an other worldly vibe. Take the first track “Sing To Me” a high octane riff oriented rock jam. From there the album bleeds into the droning “S-Words” which calls up memories of My Bloody Valentine. As Soluminesence continues the volley back and forth between both styles is apparent but never boring. I wanted to fault the album for having a very one song one way the other another way structure but to be honest I enjoyed the songs too much to care.
One of the things Luder does that works so well for the album is to embrace the epic. The band seems to understand that the songs they’re writing will suffer if restrained so they allow them to open up into full blown epics. Even songs like “Selfish And Dumb” and “The Pox” that never get as loud as their counterparts still retain an epic feel to them. One of my favorite songs “Cold Hands, Warm Pants” feels like a giant thundering rock song that’s hidden behind a drug induced haze. Same with “Hot Girl On Girl Vampire Action”, another of my favorites, which blends a giant drone sound with an underlying melancholy vibe.
The backbone of Soluminesence as an album and Luder as a band are the vocals from Sue Lott who manages to lay in her quiet and understated style perfectly into the music. Lott sounds like a rainy day, not a storm but a day you’d stand in the woods under ash colored clouds and enjoy the rain dabbing your face. Her voice is equal parts sensitive, sweet and also sexy. Not in some bombastic pop singer way but in a whispering enigmatic way. In short every time you hear her voice you kind of want to make out with her. Lott’s voice reminds me of that girl you met at some art gallery who seemed a little bit worldlier, with awesome taste in music, cool clothes and a penchant for painting or sculpture. Nothing that goes on with Luder would work at all without her vocals behind it.
There are some flaws with Soluminesence mainly coming from song length. At times the tunes begin to drag out into unnecessary lengths that feel almost narcissistic. It’s a hard hustle with this kind of sound to keep everything from going on too long so I don’t fault the band too hard. Not to mention the overall album is so enjoyable the flaws kind of melt away. In a world where bands have a hard time keeping one style from sounding boring a band like Luder who can handle two or more is a really nice surprise.
- Iann Robinson
Ok, this one needs some back story: There was a 90s indie band outta Detroit called Slot, led by guitarist Billy Rivkin and partner (in life and band), bassist/vocalist Sue Lott. Slot never garnered anything other than underground success and broke up after Rivkin’s death. Years later Small Stone released The Sweet Black Bear, an album of previously unreleased Slot material, and SS head honcho Scott Hamilton persuaded Lott and Slot drummer Eddie Alterman to reform for a one-off SXSW gig with Hamilton and Phil Dürr (Five Horse Johnson and Giant Brain) filling in on guitars. Well, something clicked at that gig because Lott, Hamilton, and Dürr (with Eric Miller of Five Horse Johnson replacing Alterman on drums) are back as Luder and it seems the Slot legacy is very much alive and well.
Now, this isn’t your usual Small Stone fare in the sense that it doesn’t sound like Satan smoking a bowl on the back of a flatbed truck barreling over pack of rottweilers feeding on your skin and screams. No, instead Luder represents the SS alter-ego, the part of the label that floats through the dream pop ether. Who knew such a side existed, but here it is. With a title befitting its sound, Luder’s debut is full of heavy opulence, a magnanimous dose of new wave psyche and indie beauty, with Lott spinning lyrical lysergic bliss over top of deep, progressive grooves. I don’t know how the die-hard SS fans will take Sonoluminescence, but this fan here digs it a lot, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t please the shoegazers and the stoners among us.
Hey wait a minute! This Luder album doesn’t sound like the usual “regressive rock” that Small Stone Records releases. It’s almost modern! There are no songs that have any kind of Blackfoot influence. Is this allowed?
I guess when the label boss is in the band all bets are off. Luder is a new band featuring former member of Slot, Sue Lott – bass/vocals, drummer Eric Miller from Novadriver and Five Horse Johnson, with the twin axe attack of Phil Durr and Scott Hamilton and their huge collection of effects pedals. Phil’s also played with Big Chief, Giant Brain and Five Horse Johnson while Scott is the guy dumb enough to release noncommercial records in an indifferent marketplace. God bless him!
If this record came out about 15 years ago, radio consultants would be demanding some edits and the sounds of Luder would be broadcast around the world. Imagine a less heavy Tool with female vocals. Or if the Smashing Pumpkins ever wrote a song that was tolerable to listen to for more than 10 seconds. The album is called "Sonoluminescence," which I thought was a fancy name for a wet dream, but means “luminescence excited in a substance by the passage of sound waves through it.”
The guitars are swirly and the rhythms are very trancey, but the real strength of Luder is Sue Lott’s voice. It’s sultry and very strong. She adds interesting melodies on top of repetitive riffs and has excellent phrasing. And she writes some good lyrics, too. Very evocative but also slips in some really funny lines, too.
“Selfish and Dumb” has a chorus that reminds me a little of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” but with Sue singing “you don’t give a shit what I want.” Female cursing in music is always appreciated. So are songs with titles like “Hot, Girl-On-Girl, Vampire Action.” If they ever make a sequel to 1971’s Vampire Lesbos exploitation film it would be perfect for the soundtrack. It’s kind of a Band of Gypsys slow blues with modern production.
Other standout songs include “Sewn Together” which immediately made me think of the line from Slayer’s “Angel of Death” – “sewn together, joining heads.” There’s no real metal influence but there is a great guitar riff, a huge bassline and a big chorus that you could sing Slayer lyrics to.
Ten songs in 60 minutes is kinda long but the songs never get boring. Besides, in their bio they admit that they’ve been told that their music needs editing but respond with “up yours.”
Once upon a time in 90s Detroit, there was a band called SLOT. Led by guitarist BILLY RIVKIN and bassist/vocalist SUE LOTT (partners in life as well as music), the trio mixed shoegazer arrangements and wispy melodies with hard rock riffage and a whimsical outlook on life, carving out a distinctive niche in the indie rock edifice with a handful of EPs and an album. The band went unappreciated, though, breaking up in 1995. Rivkin’s unfortunate death from cancer in 2004 put paid to any notions of a reunion.
But the story didn’t end there. Detroit label Small Stone, staffed as it was by longtime Slot fans, gathered up the band’s unreleased material on The Sweet Black Bear, a stunning 2006 LP indicating that, in its waning days, Slot was just hitting its stride. In celebration of the record’s release, SS head SCOTT HAMILTON persuaded Lott and drummer EDDIE ALTERMAN to reform Slot for a one-time performance at SXSW, with Hamilton and band/label friend PHIL DÜRR (formerly of BIG CHIEF, currently of GIANT BRAIN and FIVE HORSE JOHNSON) replacing the irreplaceable Rivkin on guitars. I was at this gig, and it was a glorious tribute to Rivkin and the band’s legacy.
I remember commenting at the time that it would be a shame for that to be the end of it – the chemistry between the musicians was palpable. Sure enough, this combination stayed together, drafting FHJ drummer ERIC MILLER in place of Alterman and rechristening themselves LUDER. Picking up on its debut Sonoluminescense right where the endtime Slot left off, the quartet pours gouts of psychedelic guitar over sturdy dream pop melodies. Hamilton and Dürr dunk their hard rocking riffs in big-ass buckets of effects, not to obscure but to enhance the songs. Lott contrasts her muscular basslines with light singing, floating above the miasma while also firmly anchoring it. Miller drives the rhythms with enough improvisatory fills to keep the bottom rubbery yet right. Armed with Lott’s typically sharp, sardonic lyrics, tracks like “Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action,” “Points West” and “In Love With Love” undulate like rainbow serpents plugged into Marshall amplifiers, sporting a melodic sensibility and rhythmic sensuality that keep the cosmic acid earthy and approachable without compromising the trippy atmosphere. Sonoluminescense is a brilliant modern take on lysergic rock & roll, as Luder expands on the legacy of Slot in a way that should make Rivkin’s spirit smile proudly and set the stage for more magic to come.
- Michael Toland
90's indie rock casualty Slot had a brief career resurgence when Small Stone released their The Sweet Black Bear a couple of years ago. Problem is, it's hard to capitalize on an album when there's no band to back it up, so surviving members Sue Lott (bass, vocals) and Eddie Alterman (drums) – guitarist Billy Rivkin's death was the unfortunate impetus for The Sweet Black Bear's release – teamed up with Big Chief/Five Horse Johnson guitarist Phil Durr and Small Stone's Scott Hamilton (guitar, presumably check writing) for a South by Southwest gig.
Apparently things went well enough to breathe new life into the band. But rather than carrying on under the same name, they opted to rechristen themselves Luder, in deference to the departed (take that, Alice in Chains!). It's a smart move, and not just because Alterman left shortly thereafter (drums are now courtesy of Novadriver's Eric Miller). Even though the two share the same sonic head space, Luder is still distinct enough to be its own entity.
Basically, Sonoluminescence's ten tracks take Slot's ethereal drug-rock and dirties it up. If Slot leaned more towards dreamy, pop-like melodies, Luder nudges them closer to the hesher crowd. We're not talking High on Fire territory, but nevertheless Sonoluminescence has more drive, more immediacy to it. That's most apparent in the likes of opener “Sing to Me,” “S-Words,” “Selfish and Dumb,” and “Sewn Together,” but even the more lower key numbers - “Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action,” “The Pox,” and “Soledad y Onanismo” - chug along with consistency. In spite of that, the songs are smartly put together. Given the various ways the members approach rock music (alt, blues, stoner, fussy label head, etc), it's not surprising that Luder never really takes the easy or obvious route.
A couple of songs get a little too precocious - “In Love with Love” in particular – but overall I liked Sonoluminescence more than The Sweet Black Bear. If Slot was geared more towards the indie scene of the mid to late 90s, Luder strikes me as being as agreeable to fans of Acid King as it would be to fans of Concrete Blonde.
- John Pegoraro
As a careful parsing of the syllables reveals, the title of Luder’s Small Stone Records debut, Sonoluminescence refers to the process by which an object is lighten by sound. It’s an appropriate, if cumbersome, tag for the album, which finds the doubly-guitarred Detroit four-piece adventuring into darkly progressive metal and rock while incorporating elements like desert riffing (“Cold Hands, Warm Pants”) and heavy/ambient dynamics. They seem pretty lit up by what they’re doing.
The story goes that it was at the 2007 SXSW Small Stone showcase that the seeds for Luder were planted in the form of a performance from Slot, whose The Sweet Black Bear was released on Small Stone in 2006. After the death of founding guitarist Billy Rivkin, Phil Dürr (Big Chief) and Small Stone’s own Scott Hamilton were brought in to fill the position alongside bassist/vocalist Sue Lott and drummer Eddie Alterman. The band wanted to continue, but out of respect for Rivkin, under a different name. Thus Luder. Alterman left citing real life and Novadriver’s Eric Miller came aboard for Sonoluminescence. (Hardly) The end.
Sonoluminescence, with a heavy emotionality from Lott on vocals, deals with the loss of Rivkin and pushes in several musical directions with layers of effects and atmospherics. Though the title of a track like “Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action” can’t be looked at without a snicker, the album has deeply serious underpinnings that show up on the mostly-acoustic closer “Soledad y Onanismo” and the more densely psychedelic “In Love with Love,” as well as elsewhere. There is a balance of mood to any and all of which the band and Lott in particular are amorphously adaptable, and Luder winds up pulling off sonic shifts to make most bands plush while maintaining a sonic flow and reasonability that moves through the songs with a sweeping hand.
Of course there are rough edges as well. The punk riff about three and a half minutes into the aforementioned “Hot, Girl-on-Girl, Vampire Action” adds movement to the song and the album as a whole that only enhances the surrounding melancholy. Likewise, the guitar-led chaos on later cut “Points West” seems to answer back to the album’s rocking start with “Sing to Me” while Lott’s heavily-reverbed croon keeps watch over the proceedings. “S-Words” feels like it could have used some trimming, which as the second song in is problematic, but the shorter and more structurally-defined “Selfish and Dumb” balances it well and re-grounds Sonoluminescence with a still-fine attention to aural detail.
By and large, Luder’s debut proves to be a multi-faceted genre-bender that comes on unpretentiously and, without announcing or telegraphing its intent, offers engaging moments of surprise. It’s not perfect, but as a new beginning for Lott and a first outing for this new band with which she’s surrounded herself, it’s an accomplishment they can easily be proud of that will appeal to prog heads who don’t mind a little psych in their midst and anyone else wondering what comes after stoner rock.
- H.P. Taskmaster