Release Date: Oct 29, 2013
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Space Rock
What a great record this is. Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond bring a molten mix of heavily distorted guitars and sludgy bass, swirl it with some tremulous, evocative vocals courtesy of frontwoman Isobel Sollenberger, then throw in a few bits of flute or violin for extra ambience and shake it all together. Tempos tend to be leaden, but this is far from doom metal—or any kind of metal.
After 22 years, Bardo Pond guitarists and siblings Michael and John Gibbons have developed a rapport few other teams can match. Despite having an instantly recognizable "sound," BP have evolved and grown, all while keeping their root aesthetic intact. Peace on Venus combines the sheer heaviness they employed on Yntra with the hypnotic pacing, textural control, and tasteful improvisation they displayed on their Record Store Day covers 12" of Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" and Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has a Master Plan." The Gibbons brothers, vocalist/flutist Isobel Sollenberger, bassist Clint Takeda, and drummer Jason Kourkounis have been appended by Aaron Igler on synth and electronics.
With albums like 2001’s great Dilate to their name, prolific Philadelphia rockers Bardo Pond have long been creating shoegazey, droney soundscapes coupled with pseudo apathetic vocals and lyrics. The band, known for their druggy psychedelia and album titles explicitly referencing drug use, now follow up their last effort, 2010’s bloated self-titled album, with the comparatively tighter Peace On Venus. A collection of five songs, it is best listened to start to finish, as it’s basically a 30-minute sound-piece with a five minute intermission (Fir) that prepares the way for what follows.
At just five tracks, Bardo’s Michael Gibbons is calling Peace on Venus “a less is more statement in essence,” but don’t look for minimalism here. These tracks roar, sprawl and obliterate, in a hypnotic, heavy-booted march to enlightenment. Wall-sized guitar tones fray and blister into dissonance, drums pound in monolithic, relentless forward motion, and Isobel Sollenger’s voice floats over the roil and racket like a dream you had once as a child.
With a body of work that is sprawling in both its discography entries and its musical mileage, late-comers to Bardo Pond’s world have it tough when seeking to catch-up on and keep-up with the band’s epic psyche-rock journeying, which began twenty or so years ago. Part of the answer is to stop worrying though, grab some essential ‘official’ albums (such as 2001’s Dilate, 2006’s Ticket Crystals and 2010’s self-titled set), hunt out some choice ‘extracurricular’ outpourings (like this year’s already rare Rise Above It All covers release for Record Store Day) and then be poised for the latest step from the cosmic titans. And here it is.