|Bardo Pond: Transcending boundaries of meter and time|
Philadelphia sextet Bardo Pond don’t like change. 20 years and 8 records served, the band’s droning noise-rock and psych-folk flourishes remain comfortingly embalmed in post-alt-rock boom 1993. The songs still regularly breach the 10 minute mark – although nothing rivals the 29-minute ‘Amen’ from 1995’s magnum opus Bufo Alvarius, amen 29:15 – while alterations in chord are eschewed in favour of spectacular dynamic shifts. It’s a cacophony of sound which explains why they never became alt-rock royalty, despite stints on pre-eminent indy labels Matador and 4AD; too impenetrable, too esoteric, and too darn druggy for the casual party stoner who’d rather be learning rote lyrics from a Pavement CD inlay.
However, they’re masters of their craft. Opener ‘Just Once’ explodes with hair-raising bursts of distortion. The shimmering feedback and the off-sync murmur of singer Isobel Sollenberger on ‘Undone’ – “spun out into space” – transcend accepted boundaries of meter and time, yet fashion something strangely regimented; until the microdots are passed around, that is. Better still is ‘The Stars Behind’, where rare open spaces are saturated with Sollenberger’s elegiac howl. “Lost in the night” she repeats, like a Jennifer Herrema who gave a damn. The world won’t listen. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Choice Cuts: The Stars Behind; Undone
Out now on Fire records