Thursday 6 January 2011

Fully Submerged In Bardo Pond

I cant believe we have been around for almost a year, and this is my first Bardo Pond reference! Wow. Ok, here goes...

I came to Bardo Pond a few years ago, pretty much purely because the guys from Mogwai kept banging on about them. This was the mid '00s, when I was still a fat mid-twentysomething in Australia, tutoring rich kids at a school that bred faux intellectuals, thugs and the very occasional stand-up good guy, turning my back on my education career, struggling to get noticed with my writing and wondering what was the point in life... Ahem. So anyway, I also saw Bardo Pond's name floating about on various ATP lists, which piqued my interest even more. I found Dilate in the bargain area of the local record store, Rockinghorse, and - whilst not as mesmerising as hearing My Father My King for the first time - Bardo Pond were etched into my musical soul.

Therefore, Im massively excited and happy to tell you all that Bardo Pond's latest LP -the first in four years if you dont count the epic Batholith, which is a major departure for the band's once prolific nature - monikered, funnily enough, Bardo Pond (came out on Dec 8th through Fire Records) is fantastic. I noticed a few people included it on their best of 2010 lists. The reason that Bardo Pond didnt figure for me was because I didnt get it until Christmas. And because I listened to it for the final three days of 2010 right into the New Year, and we had already posted our best of 2010 lists before Christmas Day, it feels very 2011 to me. OK?

So, the album opens up with 'Just Once', an incredibly beautiful woozy jam, augmented by clearer production enhancing Isobel Sollenberger's slightly husky, warbled vocals, a great space odyssey, before blasting in with concise and gritty 'Dont Know About You'. The chamber oscillating rhythms of 'Sleeping' then lulls you into familiar terrain, wearing the Pink Floyd schtick firmly on the sleeve. All so Bardo Pond - all so good. Then we hit the middle of the album. 'Undone' warbles into existence, somewhat like a foal taking its first erratic steps. Then when its finished, 21 minutes later, you know you have ridden that horse down the rabbit hole into a dark rift in time and space that gets more chaotic yet cathartic with every passing light year, until you find yourself imploding, a dead star. Totally self-indulgent, totally fucking awesome. The rest of the album - the insistent sneer of 'Cracker Wrist', the wistful yet hopeful soaring 'The Stars Behind' and meandering trip 'Wayne's Tune' - help to accentuate the fact that after 20 years and basic anonymity, Bardo Pond are still very much the master of their own domain. I was bummed when I heard they joined the likes of Lou Reed for a very special festival at the Sydney Opera House mid-2010 - whats worse, I couldnt go see them support The Dead C in December due to a prior engagement (I think Im OK, just take deep breaths...) - now, with Bardo Pond by my side, I have them all to myself.

I can still claim this as a 2011 release, right?

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