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 D?rr (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.
Tags: Detroit, Luder, Small Stone