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Worth the Trip
With the three-track Yntra, Philadelphia-based Bardo Pond adds yet another selection to their already prodigious catalog. It is compact, as even with the twenty-minute closer, “A Crossing,” the album still comes in at a modest 35 minutes. However, being the self-respecting distortion connoisseurs they are, they pack a lot of sound into the tracks. This is definitely an album at its best when it is at its loudest, and one of those albums you could see blasting out the speakers of a beat up El Camino traversing some martian-like plateau in the Arizona desert.
The interesting thing is even with the band’s reputation as coming from psychedelic and experimental pedigrees, the music here is almost absurdly on point. The riff that almost completely drives “Side to Side” initially feels a little to by-the-book for its own good, and yet the conviction and repetition with which these guys pound out those few chords is almost revelatory. As a monument to the will involved in the track, there is even what sounds like an audible mistake halfway through when transitioning to the next repetition, and instead of sounding amateurish, the power that picks right back up is impressive and frightening at the same time. It is far and away the best track on the album, and perhaps coincidentally, the only one to feature vocals. To be honest, the vocals are highly unintelligible save for the phrase, “side to side,” which ends some of its ghostly couplets—and yet the ominous color the presence of a voice gives the track is highly affecting.
Though the lead and concluding tracks of the album might lack the overbearing power of “Side to Side,” they are both a respectable display of the band’s range inside the psychedelic guitar noise spectrum. “The Crawl,” feels a little more free-form, but even the metallic guitar scrapings at the center of the track come off more purposeful and menacing than meandering. It chugs along with a machine gun propulsion that, oddly enough, winds down pleasantly as the track ends.
The twenty-minute closer, “A Crossing,” takes a little bit from the previous two tracks—the breathing room of “The Crawl” and subtle theatrics of “Side to Side”—and stirs them up into a decent, if unspectacular conclusion. That being said, regardless of how unspectacular parts of the whole might be, the band’s devotion to focus is still highly admirable. As even when the lead lines begin to swirl around the center, the guitar play on the final track stays of the same focus as its surroundings, marching along with, and not against, the rest of the music. Yntra is a particular kind of listen, just as Bardo Pond is a particular kind of band. However, as particular listens go, this is a genuinely enjoyable one. For those who traverse the martian landscapes in real life, or even those who do so only in spirit.