Set and Setting LP/CD

Bardo Pond
Set and Setting

For over half a decade now Bardo Pond hasn't compromised in their musical vision. 1997's "Lapsed" proved to be just about the heaviest "space rock" album I've ever heard, and it seemed their next move just might be universal domination, on a metaphysical scale at least. And while that's not happened just yet, I do know a certain subset of rock 'n' roll fandom has taken an avid interest in these young space cadets of today, and for good reason. Earlier this year saw the arrival of another burnt set of Hash Jar Tempo brownies, and now, just in time for the year 2000 (the millennium doesn't start till 2001 ya know), comes "Set and Setting," the latest psychedelic sludge/blues affair from these guys and gal. And well, what's changed? Isobel has traded in her flute for a violin, and original drummer Joe Culver is missing-in-action on a few tracks, with touring drummer Ed Farnsworth filling in the gaps. More important though is what has not changed. The Bardos show no sign of receding from the ether any time soon. "Walking Stick Man" is a lumbering slab of heavy blues-edelica which instantaneously matches the greatest heights of Bardo's past ominous beauty. Isobel's drunken vocal isn't as buried here as on those earlier records, yet I still dare not to decipher what she's saying. The Gibbons' brothers guitar attack is just as full on wasted as ever — slithering, spiraling and circling their way through Clint Takeda's abominable bass excretions. It's an epic journey at just over eleven minutes, which hardly comes as a surprise now does it? Next up are a couple of longish mid-tempo drifting drone jams with names like "This Time (So Fucked)" and "Datura." New ground is broken with "Again" though as the quintet delivers a stunning wall of charging, monolithic post-punk. Then comes the gothic violin drone intro of the gargantuan "Cross Current" which fades to the drifting Philly-delia of "Crawl Away," a groggy slow burner with squealing guitar lines laid over hypnotic rhythms. It's more of what we've come to expect from this most exciting ensemble, plus a few new surprises along the way, and it works just fine by me. Vinyl connoisseurs should be aware that the CD includes an extra track.

[Written by Lee Jackson for Broken Face. Reprinted without permission.]

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