The eccentricity of psychedelic music brought to light
Pond, a rock/pop band formed in 2008, released their ninth studio album fittingly titled 9 on October 1st. What sets Pond apart from the rest is not only are they a rock band, but they are a psychedelic rock band hailing from Perth, Australia. Often related to the group Tame Impala, who just so happen to also be a psychedelic indie band from Perth, Australia, Pond utilizes instrumentals that are easy to get lost in.
What is psychedelic rock, one may ask? Largely inspired by hallucinogens, psychedelic rock mirrors a drug-induced state with the help of feedback, electronics and intense volumes. This style of rock became popular in the late 1960s, a time period where almost everyone was under the influence, and music festivals like Woodstock allowed them to be.
The start of the album is a four-and-a-half-minute track titled “Song For Agnes.” Dedicated as a tribute to the late abstract painter Agnes Martin, this song holds quite an abstract sound to correctly pay homage to her talent. Pond utilizes echo in the vocals to add a bit of a ripple effect that dances with the intense synths in the instrumental.
“Take Me Avalon I’m Young,” is much slower and melancholic compared to “Song For Agnes.” The sorrowful lyrics combined with a steady paced BPM makes it easy to hear the emotion in the vocals. According to the drummer of Pond, Nick Allbrook, in the description of it on Apple Music, “The song’s about age, decay, changing and the golden dream of England. I wanted to make a song with the drumbeat like the one that comes in at the end of ‘3 Legs’ by Paul McCartney.”
A few more tracks in this project stay true to this somewhat gloomy tone, like “Czech Locomotive,” “Toast” and “Gold Cup / Plastic Sole.” Inspired by Emil Zátopek, a Czechoslovakian long-distance runner whose nickname was “Czech Locomotive,” the track reflects upon the buildup and sadness of his career. The use of a deeper voice in the vocals alone tells a story. “Toast” is similar to a Tame Impala song as it leans more towards an indie-like sound through the use of guitar notes. This track almost sounds like a heartbeat as it is both steady and full of life. The vocals and the guitar breathe air into this easy-going song. Reminiscent to a David Bowie song, “Gold Cup / Plastic Sole” sounds like it would come straight out of the movie Labyrinth. This track is perfectly aligned with what one would imagine from the psychedelic genre with the use of feedback and electronics mentioned previously.
On the contrary, “Pink Lunettes” and “Rambo” are polar opposites to the songs described above. What both of these tracks have in common is how heavy the use of electronics is incorporated, so much so that they’re practically techno-like. Although they’re considered psychedelic and make for an eccentric sprinkle to the project, “Pink Lunettes” and “Rambo” throw the flow off if one were to listen to 9 in order. Even in the case of playing it on shuffle, they’re quite a surprise.
Overall, Pond was able to showcase just how unconventional the 1960s inspired genre of psychedelic rock is. 9 is a testament to the many faces of this phenomenon, as no one can place this category of music in one box.