Sixteen years ago, longtime rabid music fan and newly minted law student Cory Rayborn came up with an audacious, maybe even ridiculous idea: He would press a ten-inch containing some unreleased Bardo Pond material and sell it for money. Anyone who knows much about the economics of record labels, or the vagaries of vinyl production — especially in the vinyl-challenged year 2000 — knows that usually translates to “lose a bunch of money and piss off a bunch of customers in the process.” But a funny thing ended up happening: First there was that Bardo record, Slab, of which the 500-LP run would go on to sell out. Not but another couple releases in came Purposeful Availment, an 8-CD series that also featured Bardo Pond. Then there was TLR-012, an LP of Bardo Pond playing with Tom Carter, followed in short order by the Cypher Documents CD. Then another CD series, Modern Containment, found Bardo back on Three Lobed, with their Adrop CD. There are more than ten others since, right up to 2014’s Shone Like A Ton and Refulgo releases and their contribution to the Parallelogram series last year. Out of Three Lobed Recordings‘ 117 total current releases, the Philadelphia-based band makes up not only the largest percentage of the label’s releases, but they’re the label’s original reason for being.
Since that first 10″, Three Lobed has grown, but its original mission hasn’t changed. The label has kept things willfully weird, releasing everything from Bardo Pond’s feedback-soaked psychedelia to the drone/free jazz sounds of Glacial (Lee Ranaldo, David Watson and Tony Buck), to the Parallelogram contribution from Alan Bishop, Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano, capped with its brain-damaged cover of Cream’s “Politican,” to the delicate guitar work of Danny Paul Grody, to his work with Hiss Golden Messenger and Steve Gunn. Both the Three Lobed name and its iconic logo suggest not just an expanded but an integrated, functioning mind, and at the root of all those seemingly disparate releases has been Rayborn’s, a font of curatorial taste. In his mind, all of these radically different sounds belong together, and in his presentation of them, he connects the dots.
So it meant a great deal, to Rayborn personally and to the followers of the Three Lobed experience, for Bardo Pond’s evening set to close out the marathon of music that was the “Sweet Sixteen Spectacular,” and for them to do with a sprawling, career-spanning set that represented their first return to North Carolina in thirteen years. “Kali Yuga Blues” began the night, with Isobel Sollenberger’s moan floating above the guitar haze. After another Peace on Venus number the setlist went twenty years back to 1996’s Amanita for “Be A Fish” before hurling into what may have been the first live performance of their Parallelogram contribution, “Screens for a Catch (Fur Bearing Eyes)”. Along with four new songs, the band threw in one of the very oldest — “Absence” from Bufo Alvarius — followed by another older number, “Straw Dog,” from Lapsed. Drug references by the band are as prolific as its catalog, and by this point in the evening, even the sober among this crowd had probably lost their sense of time. The set’s, and the night’s, spiritual peak came during the new song “Moment to Moment,” a twelve-minute deep dive into the band’s vision, with each of us led through the deep bed of guitar by Sollenberger’s flute, her voice howling ahead into the void.
There was no encore, but one wasn’t needed after the last song, “Tommy Gun Angel,” whose lyrics about rejoining the primordial ooze, melting away like the snow, gave a long-eyed perspective to the proceedings. Every little contribution makes up part of a larger one, a few more positive ions added to the charge of existence. You never know where a dorm room dream like putting out a ten inch record for one of your favorite bands might take you. It might end up something just for you and the smallest group of friends. Or it might be something great.
I recorded this set with four soundboard channels from King’s engineer Brad Womack, together with Schoeps MK22 microphones onstage and MBHO microphones hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. Save for a one-second glitch during the first song, the sound quality is outstanding. Enjoy!
Stream the complete show
Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Raleigh, NC USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
4x Soundboard channels (engineer: Brad Womack) + MBHO 603a/KA200N (FOB, DFC, PAS) + Schoeps MK22 (onstage, ORTF, DFC)>KC5>CMC6>Aeta PSP3 >> Zoom F8>8x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, compression)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )
02 Kali Yuga Blues
04 Be A Fish
05 Screens for A Catch (Fur Bearing Eyes)
06 Two Planes
09 Out of Reach
11 Straw Dogs
12 Pine Trees
13 Moment to Moment
16 Tommy Gun Angel