Thursday, May 28, 2009

Madking Ludwig—Seven Stairways (self-released)

Madking Ludwig augment their thick-as-a-brick guitar tones with a touch of flute playing, but let’s not make a case for “obvious Tull influences.” The band sounds nothing like Anderson, Barre, and co. The hard-driving Quebec band’s sound revolves around a desert rock throb, adding male/female vocal tradeoffs and that flute to sweeten the sand-blasted raunch of Stéphane Vigeant's guitar. This is a wise move, because the guitar work is quite Spartan, utilizing one consistent distortion setting and free of solos and harmonies. What could have been just a patience-testing grey smear of a record actually becomes full of charm and originality when all these elements are combined. I enjoyed their first album, and this new one continues in a similar, slightly murkier, vein. It’s not a great leap forward, but you can hear that the band have found a comfortable sound in which to work. The next step might involve a handful of possibly unattainable elements: a larger budget, a producer to lend some impartial ears, and perhaps a co-guitarist who might provide some tonal variety while remaining sympathetic to the plain-riffing approach. For now, with their appealing quirkiness and confidence, and terrific songs like the dynamic opening epic "Kursk" and the convoluted "Cease Not Desist," Madking Ludwig are a rough gem in the stoner rock underground.

The new album is available as a download here—please donate if you like what you hear.

Beyond the Valley of Madking Ludwig...

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