Zen Juddhism is the stage name for Southampton musician Jude Ωne Eight. This refreshing project sees Jude composing songwriting duties, playing every instrument, while bringing in his friends to sing on each track. His self-titled debut album was released in November 2014. Ranging from hip-hop, hardcore and classic rock, the varying influences were exciting and unpredictable. Jude’s recent album, Zen Juddhism Vol.2 was released last year. This time round, new vocalists are featured, while the songwriting became more melodic, making for a compelling listen.
The album opens with ‘Better Not Wait’. A catchy pop-rock banger with vocals from Naomi Terry, Jude’s gritty guitars give it a rough edge; the styles meshing together to for an infectious chorus. ‘Stage Fright’, featuring Yui Karlberg on vocals takes on a relaxed approach as the ambient guitars reflect the anxious lyrics.
On these first few tracks, the diversity is noticeable, with Jude gaining an ear for a strong melody. Another example is the Soundgarden-esque ‘Murder of Crows’’, featuring Steve Erida. Although Erida’s delivery on the verse is poor, he makes the chorus his own. It oozes passion and conviction; his voice is the perfect fit as he’s in his element. The heavy guitars are raised in the mix, leading to a beefy sound.
‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ is another delight. The upbeat riff is reminiscent of Britpop while the gritty production adds to the dark atmosphere. It’s an eight minute epic, with Marlene Rodriguez asking: “Tell me, what is your purpose in life?” The track transitions into a slower section, Rodriguez encouraging someone to “find yourself and get to the centre.” The guitar could represent a slow pilgrimage through life, leaving the listener wondering where this epic journey will take them. All of a sudden, the music picks up pace and the earlier question is posed again. It shows Jude’s willing to experiment and trying new ideas.
The new ideas don’t always work however. ‘Hawaii Five-O’ trudges along and doesn’t add much. It’s dull, while the chorus is uninspiring because it has the potential to be catchy, yet feels forgettable. ‘No-One Buys Music’ is a critical analysis of how the public have shunned CD’s aside in favour of downloading and streaming. Pammie Moore’s vocals are soulful, angry and passionate. Lyrically, the listener can feel the frustration and desire for more people to buy a physical copy of an album as Moore snarls: “All your memories may be stored on 1GB of data/ but I’d rather have the product and reminisce later.”
Similarly to ‘Heart Remover’ on Zen Juddhism’s debut album, it’s the tracks that catch you off guard that stand out. A perfect example is ‘All Our Leaders’ featuring Marco Lofi. It’s a scathing criticism on how out of touch politicians and world leaders are with current issues. The summery guitar chords are gloomy and sombre, matching the moody chorus: “All our leaders swear allegiance to an alien race / All our leaders have no interest in the interest of the common man.” There’s some neat wordplay in here, summing up the anger and apathy of the current political climate.
Despite sometimes falling flat,‘ Zen Juddhism: Vol. 2’ is an enjoyable album. The socially conscious lyrics from the fresh mix of performers enable a range of genres without taking itself too seriously.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos