A Good Place for Fishing
Making their debut on a self-released cassette back in 1992, Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond has since been a vehicle of experimental discovery for its members. With their newest offering Ticket Crystals, the band toys with sounds both soft and loud, drawn out over the course of 8 tracks that serve as mile markers between each exploratory jam.Destroying Angel begins acoustic and subdued before giving in to the crushing weight of brothers Michael and John Gibbons’ distorted guitars. Isobel Sollenberger alternates between her double-tracked vocals and her haunting flute, each floating like a ghost over the crashing downbeats and manic drumming. The following track, “Isle,” is a much more relaxed song with the guitar, bass and drums keeping a locked groove while the lead guitar gets lost in the outer limits of fuzzed-out noise. These two opening tracks claim the first 20 minutes of the disc, but pass by in an almost dreamlike state.
Much of the remainder of the album finds the group mucking around in primordial noise stew, with a few beautifully rendered songs floating amongst the chaos. We hear mere glimpses of Sollenberger’s voice as it twists and turns throughout the aptly named “Lost Word.” A cover of the Beatles’ “Cry Baby Cry” makes for a bittersweet precursor to the 18-minute freeform sonic frenzy of “Fc II.” Sollenberger’s voice returns to the foreground for the mesmerizing “Moonshine” and “Endurance” only to recede once again to make way for the closing onslaught of “Montana Sacra II,” a rich concoction of samples and wailing feedback.
If their output as a band or their many collaborations under different monikers offer any evidence, Bardo Pond will not run dry anytime soon. The beauty of their songs is buried beneath much experimental padding, which may turn away the fickle ear but will surely reward the patient listener.