Monday, 27 June 2011

Mother’s Little Helper

Ludus are perhaps the most unfairly overlooked band of the post-punk era. The brainchild of artist Linder Sterling, their daring, imaginative music is less known than the outrages they performed in their stage shows - Linder having worn a meat dress long before Lady Gaga.

Ludus’s music is like a doll’s house with doors that open into the cosmos - at one moment intricate, precise and formal, and then suddenly giving way to vast currents of sound. Linder is forever presenting domestic constrictions taken to the most absurd limits, such as being trapped inside a refridgerator, or dutifully cooking herself for an imagined husband.

The drug that seemed to inspire Ludus was Valium, a prescription drug that was sold over the counter to millions of housewives in the Sixties and Seventies, a sleeping tablet that was used overwhelmingly to stifle the neuroses that resulted from the contradictions of a political culture that told women they were liberated, while at the same time a media culture expected them to achieve a submissive domestic perfection. Ludus suggested that domesticity consisted of an almost limitless profusion of exquisitely delicate traps, a torture chamber where though the body may have been reduced to meat, it was tender and succulent.

In this honeytrap world, escape can only be by daydream, and this is where Ludus’s sound opens up to reveal yearning vistas, like Priit Pärn’s "Hotel E", where the grey, fly-ridden Easterners find a door into the soporific, paradisical West. It’s a heartbreaking vision of the impossibility of fulfilling relationship roles that are dictated by nebulous social pressures. As easy to fall into, and as difficult to escape from, as Valium itself.

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