Several years ago, one of the brightest stars who appeared to be on the rise from of the ever-crowded Southern California music scene was singer, songwriter and bandleader Maxim Ludwig, then fronting a freewheeling outfit called the Santa Fe Seven.
As an early indicator of Ludwig’s proclivity for fiddling with audiences’ expectations, his group was neither from Santa Fe, nor limited to seven members.
They put on a mightily impressive performance in 2009 at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, eliciting comparisons to the musical gumbo that Bob Dylan and the Band set forth circa 1967 in upstate New York, and released a promising debut album, fell for a time under the influence of superstar producer T Bone Burnett, but soon vanished into the night like so many sparks from a dying campfire.
Ludwig subsequently bounced around L.A. clubs in a number of varied guises and musical settings, but now, nearly eight years after that Stagecoach moment in the sun, he’s readying a new solo album “Libra-Scorpio Cusp,” due June 7.
The Times is premiering the first track from the new collection, “No One Has To Know.” Ludwig’s eclecticism is still in force, but has assumed a different form this time out with a grunge-inspired foundation, a catchy and melodic core surrounded by left-field touches from distorted harmonica and neo-psychedelic production. It even invokes a whiff of the Cars’ throbbing rhythms and calliope-like keyboards circa 1980.
The lyric, Ludwig explains, “is about the willingness to surrender to someone on a primitive and animalistic level through the most antiseptic and sterile way possible.”
The “no one has to know” refrain crystallizes an attitude toward relationships in our highly technological world.
“Our relationship with technology has destroyed intimacy,” Ludwig said. “Everything is public, designed, and branded. Our most banal moments are subject to consumption and scrutiny.
“But technology has improved one area: sex,” he added. “There are so many new ways to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh and that is all thanks to the smart phone. Sending pictures, sexting, etc., has become a new way of exploring one’s own sexuality. They become our only secrets and privacy. It's a pop form of erotographomania and nymphotomania. The thrill in the secrets we send and the release of the complete Id in the form of a text message.”
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