- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
We’re two songs into Bardo Pond’s set and I’m already completely lost in the sound. The guitars drone, hum and reverberate around the room as vocalist Isobel Sollenberger gently sings at the centre of the storm, “that’s what it feels like”. It’s called ‘Kali Yuga Blues’ and contrary to the title it’s utterly euphoric. By the time Sollenberger introduces her flute to the mix I’m thoroughly immersed in the bands heavy yet majestic waves of noise.
There’s no support on the bill tonight, just a sizable set from Philadelphia’s finest purveyors of heavy, psychedelic rock via an equally hefty dose of shoegaze, drone and flute. Genre labels aside there really isn’t another band quite like Bardo Pond. Tonight will be the first time I’ve seen them live and, appropriately enough, I’m absolutely psyched.
Looking relaxed as she melts into the sound, Sollenberger’s vocals drift over the top of the bands sonic tsunami. It’s ridiculously heavy while simultaneously dreamlike and ethereal; the overall effect blissful and transportative. “Keep on dancing/wear you out” Sollenberger sings as the sound ebbs and flows through the room.
While these are recognisably songs from the bands back-catalogue you can clearly hear their appreciation and love for improvisation. The sound isn’t tethered to anything, guitarist Michael Gibbons bringing the songs to a close with the wave of an arm or the nod of his head.
The drummer rides the bands free-flowing tide of sound, closing his eyes and losing himself in the jazz-like spontaneity of it all. All the more impressive when I find out it isn’t even the bands regular drummer. Bassist Clint Takeda’s playing is equally intuitive, adding subtle spacey riffs into the passages of drone while brothers Michael and John Gibbons drench everything in space-rock fuzz and raw power.
Songs from last years Under the Pines LP find the band on fine form; ‘Moment to Moment’ is bursting with love and starry-eyed wonder while the title track takes us by the hand and leads us deep in the woods. After all these years the band’s music still sounds mysterious and otherworldly. Even more so when stood here in the Brudenell, band and audience thoroughly absorbed.
It’s a fantastic performance from beginning to end but there’s a moment that sticks in my mind. Standing amidst the monumental drone of ‘Two Planes’ with my eyes shut, hearing melodies and notes that quite possibly aren’t even there as the stage lights temporarily blind the audience and the drone works it’s magic. It’s an incredible feeling and while heavy music can often edge towards the oppressive, Bardo Pond want to lift you off the ground.
they are excellent live - we only got 30 minutes of them when they supported GYBE last year and were just getting going - but they were well worth the long wait to finally see them!!!