Bardo Pond came to Brooklyn a couple Saturdays ago to headline an event at the Bell House appropriately titled the “Memory Burn Psych Fest.” If you have seen Bardo’s live show before, you know they picked the right event, as they have been known, at times, to sear one’s mind. I cannot describe their sound any better than this article from Terrascope did:
Bardo Pond has the outward specifications of a rock band – guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, occasional but crucial flute and violin and vocals – but the rivers that converge into the band’s oneiric flow have their headwaters in the outlands of ecstatic jazz, free noise and the avant-garde. Their slow-motion avalanches of churning instrumentation and voice suggest drugged states but don’t necessarily require them. They alter brain chemistry by the alchemical effect of distressed sound alone, aspiring to become engineers of the soul’s passage to alternate states of consciousness. At the foundation of the pyramid, the drums of (originally) Joe Culver and (now) Ed Farnsworth and the bass of Clint Takeda lay down a sinewy, sexy and hypnagogic bottom end. At the centre of the pyramid, the twin guitars of John and Michael Gibbons send out emissaries of fire, flaying flesh from bone in a storm of holy liberation. Isobel Sollenberger inhabits the place where the pyramid meets the eye of their storm, weaving fibres of voice, flute and violin through the din. I heard someone comment recently that the limits of music have now been defined, bracketed by John Cage’s silence at one end and Merzbow’ss maximum noise at the other, leaving only the option of filling the spaces in between. Bardo Pond demonstrate how much scope there is to innovate within that continuum. If rock music is to have any relevance in the new millennium, it is bands like Bardo Pond that will make it so.
For nearly twenty years, Bardo Pond has produced an ever-evolving series of sonic explorations, including the outstanding 2001 release, Dilate. This show helped to celebrate, in part, the band’s eponymous new LP, Bardo Pond, which drops next week on December 6 on the UK-based Fire Records. In a tantalizing preview of what is to come, kicking off with “Limerick” and “Rumination” from Amanita and flowing into four songs of new material. Although I had heard only one of the new songs before, they continue the band’s by-now-signature tradition of a massive, churning wall of guitars, with Sollenberger’s vocals seething in and out of focus. When the show ended, we all had to stand there for a second and pause, ears ringing and minds blown. Bardo’s mission was accomplished.
Stream and download this show in MP3/FLAC/Ogg on the Live Music Archive [HERE]
Stream one of the new songs:
Brooklyn, NY USA
An acidjack master recording
Recorded and produced by acidjack for nyctaper.com
Equipment: Schoeps CMC6/mk41+Soundboard>Edirol R-44 [Oade Concert Mod] (24/48)
Position: DFC, pole clamped to soundboard about 9ft from floor, pointed at stacks
Mastering: 2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audacity (set fades, mixdown, track, amplify and balance, downsample to 16/44.1)>FLAC ( level 8 )
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