A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Artist: Bardo Pond
Release Date: 10.29.13
Label: Fire Records
Famed Philly psych/shoegaze behemoths return with their 9th LP, their tighest and most condensed statement yet.
Perhaps the Mayan Apocalypse happened last year, after all.
The Tibetan term Bardo is an in-between, purgatorial state, where a soul hangs out, waiting for reincarnation. The seminal Psychedelphia quintet of brothers John and
Michael Gibbons, Isobel Sollenberger, Clint Takeda and Jason Kourkonis chose the name to evoke the sensation of chilling by a pond, in a timeless state. There’s no rush, as fireflies dance about yr head, with a sickle moon hanging overhead.
There is a sense of the eternal about the Pond’s music. The Gibbons’ brothers twin guitar attack are like a FACT, solid like a granite mountain, while Isobel Sollenberger’s enchanting violin, flute and vocals give the steady rock an aetherial quality. It’s beautiful and tranquil, while still being heavy as lead.
Peace On Venus find the band in their most refined state, condensing their typical 2 LP smokedown odysseys to a downright efficient 40 minutes. Those that have been following along LIKE their monolithic slabs of sound, but there’s a lot of records coming out right now, so this would be a perfect place to jump and investigate their unique intersection of shoegaze, space rock and slowcore.
All of the hallmarks of Bardo Pond’s sound are present on Peace On Venus: codeine-soaked creepy crawl guitars that burn like an asteroid in slow motion; Isobel’s incantations; Jason Kourkonis’ skittering free-jazz percussion, but there is an unusual emotionality to the proceedings. There is a sense of yearning, of reminiscence, of courage and resignation. “Think it’s gonna be different this time,” says Sollenberger on album opener “Kali Yuga Blues”. “It’s gonna be alright.” “No yesterdays/No tomorrow/Time has fallen,” she claims, on the closer “Before The Moon”.
The Kali Yuga is the last of the four stages of the world in Hindu mythology, an age of vice, chaos and strife that is supposed to last 432,000. Time has sped up to the breaking point. We are living in every age at once, thus we are living in Eternity. We have no choice. At this point, it’s meditate or die. Just try and keep up with current events (even just great psychedelic records) and try and maintain yr sanity. Bardo Pond are ushering us into the infinite, and letting us know that it’s gonna be alright.
Still, there’s a sense of mournfulness, a kind of requiem for the way things were. The innocence we all get nostalgic for, the love of the ’80s (even from people who weren’t alive during them), are all dead and gone. At least some of us had the formative years where we’d have a week or a month to fixate on a record, to learn how to play guitar, to read A WHOLE BOOK! I somewhat shudder to think what it must be like for kids who’ve been raised on YouTube clips, but they’ll probably be enlightened, so they should be okay. That’s pretty much the reason behind Forestpunk, i needed a way to orient in the fog of confusion, and to slow myself enough to try to make something QUALITY. This is the battle, every single day.
Thankfully, we have psychopomps like the Pond to remind us how it’s done, to point the way, and to lead us to other luminaries like the psychedelphia scene, of which they were a part, and the kind of bands championed by the great Ptolemiac Terrascope magazine (another formative influence behind Forestpunk). Their influence has spread to legendary post-rock bands like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, but Bardo Pond themselves have always remained criminally underknown.
The time has come to change that. For years, it seemed like everything new and interesting coming out was electronically oriented, and we almost forgot the glory of slow, epic guitar barnstormers. With recent excellent releases from Jesu, Pelican, Thisquietarmy, Russian Circles, it seems there is a resurgence of heavy psychedelic music, just in time for the cold, dark months (in the northern hemisphere).
Peace On Venus is out now on Fire Records.
Grab a copy: Peace on Venus