John Ludi "Rise Above or Fall Below"
By Marcus Pan
It's been four years since
Ludi's blend of raucous humor, interesting accompaniaments and left field
visions have crossed my desk. Late 2001 was when Hell's Laughter and
Heaven's Ache(1) made it to us. John Ludi's style has changed only
minimally, showing a higher standard of recording and more maturity, but
retains the same tongue in cheek left field advances that he was purporting
back then. Much about John is artistically inclined. Even the press kit is
hilariously sarcastic and brilliantly written from the opening statement: "God
I hate press kits!!!" to the enclosed "Impersonal Form Letter" and the
requiscent Press Release written as objectively and distantly as possible.
The opening Whore of Babylon takes a dark cliche and
bubbilizes it with pleasant synthetics and key licks. "Hello? Do you remember
me? I was your consciounce." is the first lyric of the Rise Above or Fall
Below release and already gives you an idea of the writing skills of John.
This opening track, on the whole, is slow moving and almost dragging without
becoming boring, the synthesizers keeping the otherwise sloopy rhythm from
getting mired in the mud and pulling it along brilliantly a bright
melody, dark content and dragging beat all fused together into a cohesive piece
The happy thump of Web follows and is combatted by
the light strumming strains of guitars and keys. Filling the Hole gets
quicker in speed, but somehow retains a strangely effervescent quality to
itself regardless of the heavier guitar melody and strong keyboard chords.
After some strangeness we get smooth and leery with The Way which flutes
its way into the mix. Zen like in its lyrical content, The Way is an
uplifting piece amidst the previous strangeness. Still Comes the Dawn
continues this style, but utilizes guitars more heavily instead of keys.
Mediocrity defies its name by being possibly the most
climactic song on Rise Above or Fall Below. This gives way to the groovy
bassline of Feet of Clay. Chorus parts slam into a heavy-handed and
unexpected groove with the end result being Feet of Clay is a top track
on the release. Home reminds me of shoegazery rock by Plastic Houses(2),
Cinnamon Drafthouse(3) or JackieOnAssid(4). Another favorite, Mr. Sad,
continues this trend John tends to bundle his songs in nice patches of 2
or 3 likeminded tracks.
John Ludi has a certain laid back but honest groove about
him and his work. From the etheral pieces like The Way and Still
Comes the Dawn to the guitar-centered Filling the Hole and groovy
Feet of Clay, he can mix and match colors and sounds like a Lite Brite
on acid. Always on the fringe of the mainstream with his sarcasm and wit, John
Ludi is worth checking out...he can save the day from the doldroms of
PO Box 930467, Wixom, MI, 48393, USA
(1) Reviewed in
(2) The Best of Plastic
Houses was reviewed in Legends
(3) Cinnamons 101 was
reviewed in Legends #125.
(4) JackieOnAssid was
intereviewed in Legends
#106 and their Zip Me Up release was
reviewed there as well.
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