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 Music Review: Rise Above or Fall Below by John Ludi
John Ludi is the latest persona of a local music veteran whose spent better than twenty years creating music both with bands such as "Pliny The Elder" and "Soft War" and as a solo artist. After returning to Michigan three years ago, battered and bruised from a soul-searching trek across America, John Ludi turned his thoughts inward and began his latest, and perhaps greatest work, entitled "Rise Above or Fall Below". Click "Read More" for a review and song samples.

Artist: John Ludi
Release: Rise Above Or Fall Below
Year: 2005
Musicians: John Ludi (guitars, basses, keyboards, programming) Greg Kutcher (guitars on "The Way"), Ken Shaw (hand drum on "The Way")
Additional Recording: Digital Vision (Wixom)
Additional Engineering and Mastering: Michael Moore (No, not that Michael Moore)

If you've been to his website, you'd know that John Ludi loiters on the fringe of popular culture: where undisclosed numbers of alien abductions and cattle-mutilations are covered-up to prevent a worldwide panic; where out-of-body-experiences are investigated to validate the existence of the soul; where a small faction of social deviants practice yoga, mindfulness meditation and live 'a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity, frugality, and avoidance of debt' (a radical notion in 21st century America if ever there were one); and where some truly interesting things happen if you're paying any attention. Ludi doesn't collect "Anomalinks" as he calls them because he's gullible or prone to conspiracy theories, but because he's well-read and insatiably curious about a world in which he finds himself ill-at-ease.

To everyday, red-state, Bush/Cheney bumper-sticker folk who insist that conspicuous consumption and media-inspired ass-sniffing are the height of human experience, John Ludi is just another deluded liberal (though he insists on the term "pragmatist") blathering on about finite resources and unnecessary violence in a world intent on eating itself. But to those who feel comfortable on the fringe, despite its capricious and sometimes silly nature, and who realize the value of curiosity and the rarity of humility in a world controlled by arrogant, hyper-confident predators and the wanna-bees who will lie, cheat, kick and kill to take their place, John Ludi is the voice of sanity put to music - more precisely, well-crafted, synth-pop rooted in late 70's to early 80's art-rock and new-wave.

"Rise Above or Fall Below" is Ludi's latest release, a cohesive collection of 13 songs with a nod back to art-rock and new-wave in the tradition of of Peter Murphy, Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Nick Cave and bands such as The Fixx and Roxy Music.

The songs tackle such heady themes as modern decadence ("Whore of Babylon"), spiritual opportunism ("Feel of Clay"), diminishing biodiversity ("Web") and insatiable materialism ("SUV"). There's also a bit of introspective self-loathing to keep him from getting too puffed-up ("Mediocrity" and "Mr. Sad") and failing that, Ludi works his punk muscle on "Best of Armageddon".

But its Ludi's personal struggle and his search for meaning in life that makes this musical journey so compelling. You can hear his hunger for enlightenment on the hip-tripping dance gem "Rise Above" and his belief in transcendent divinity on "The Way". There's a weary wistfulness on "Still Comes The Dawn" and palpable yearning on the closer "...or Fall Below".

Though relatively dark for a pop culture hit, "Rise Above or Fall Below" is a compelling listen from a seasoned artist in search of self-realization.

Review by Mitch Phillips for Michiganbands.com

Track Listing

1. The Whore of Babylon
2. Web
3. Rise Above
4. SUV
5. The Way
6. Still Comes The Dawn
7. Mediocrity
8. Feet of Clay
9. Home
10. Mr. Sad
11. The Beast of Armageddon
12. ...or Fall Below

Visit JohnLudi.com

Song samples used with permission.

Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2005 @ 07:30:00 EDT by chief editor
Topic: Music Reviews
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