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.