Bardo Pond - Volume 8 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bardo Pond - Volume 8

by Ian Fraser Rating:7 Release Date:2018-02-02
Bardo Pond - Volume 8
Bardo Pond - Volume 8

Not for nothing did the late, great Tony Dale describe Bardo Pond as the world’s most essential psychedelic experience. At their best, the grizzled Philly blasters’ grinding stoner/space rock work outs are possessed of the relentless force and density of a California mudslide. 2017 marked their annus mirablis with two remarkable releases, namely their Curanderos side project and the sublime Beneath The Pines, their most focussed and complete album to date, positioning themselves like a darker, grungier Heron Oblivion. On the prosaically titled Volume 8 they retreat back into themselves courtesy of a series of mainly extended and endearingly shambolic jams of sometimes variable quality.

Opener ‘Kailash’ makes no concession at all to the more commercially friendly public face of Beneath The Pines. A heavy duty wig out, it may just appeal to the many who in recent years have come to psych via metal and who swear by the lysergic qualities of Black Sabbath. ‘Flayed Wish’ is a gloriously aimless meander through the astral void which gather propulsion the further out it travels before burning out, while the semi-acoustic ‘Power Children’ comes across as the delightful paean to a lost, or more likely imaginary, idyll.

Although Isobel Sollenberger’s flute is very much in evidence, her vocals barely register except on the mammoth opus ‘And I Will’ which colonises side 2 except for the brief, disposable chewing of the ‘Cud’. Here her vulnerable sounding super-stoned swoon struggles heroically under the crushing weight of an instrumental gas giant, Clint Takeda’s rumbling bass and Jason Kourkonis tub thumps anchoring the Gibbons brother growling-howling guitars. It’s the one that veteran fans will have waited patiently for throughout and who will no doubt breathe a massive sigh of relief, not to mention satisfaction, at the intensely reassuring heft and gravitational pressure that is bound to wreak havoc on their synapses. It stands favourable comparison with anything they have committed to wax, and while the rest of the album may not have the same immediate appeal, it is one of those musical curiosities we’ve come to know as “the grower”. Give it three listens before passing judgement, then knock yourselves out.

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