Release Date: Jan 11, 2011
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Lo-Fi
Life-in-a-lava-lamp jams It’s hard to fathom how Bardo Pond have made their life-in-a-lava-lamp jams for the best part of 20 years with – we’re assuming – their marbles still intact, but here they are, bubbling away with no sign of letting the quality dip. Things are arguably a touch clearer this time round, but that could just be the fact that we’ve been drip-fed their dense, tie-dyed weirdness for so long; the woozy stumbles, occasional leaden crunches and mumblefuck vocals managing to occupy a state that’s confusingly familiar as it oozes into that mysterious part of your brain which governs colour, shape and sound. .
It seems Bardo Pond will always be pigeonholed as a band that makes music to take drugs to. Even though it has been 15 years since they last titled an album with a reference to a drug — Amanita, an obscure psychedelic mushroom — critics continue to claim that most of their LPs are named for hallucinogens. As if in an effort to thwart the drug associations, Bardo Pond have offered their first large-scale release of new music in four years with their own name as the title.
"Don't know about you," Bardo Pond's Isobel Sollenberger snarls a few minutes into her band's latest LP, "but I'm willing to wait. " That remains the eternal dilemma at the heart of the Philly mainstays' sludgy, slow-burning, obstinately retrograde stoner rock: Can you stick around to watch this thing unfurl, or do you have someplace else you've gotta be? It's the thing that keeps Bardo Pond fans split between the obsessive and the nonexistent; you can bide an awful lot of time waiting for a Bardo Pond track-- hell, sometimes a whole album-- to get to the good part, and not everybody's got that kind of time. Can you spare a minute? How's about 70? Bardo's latest, their eighth LP, is a self-titled affair, and the choice to go eponymous couples well with the band's stated desire to offer up a sort of distillation of its many strengths.
After 20 years of slow droney psychedelics, Bardo Pond has chosen to name its new album simply, after itself: Bardo Pond. And if that name means anything to you, then you know what to expect. Perhaps the band self-titled the album in order to recognize that, at this point, it is an institution, a sound, a known quantity. Though this is the first release on Fire Records, that’s really the only thing new about this album, which finds the band spacing out in its normal manner.
When a band has been making LPs for over two decades and release an album after a gap of five years between full-lengths, comparisons to past efforts are assuredly unavoidable. But not here. Somehow Bardo Pond releases have managed to elude my ears all these years, so this review comes to you unencumbered by expectation. This self-titled LP is purported to be a distillation of the Philadelphia psych-rock band’s cauldron of drugged-out space jams.