Bardo Pond | Photo by Katie Tapman
The Key Studio Sessions: Bardo Pond
The longer they’re at it, the louder they get. Philadelphia psychedelic mainstays Bardo Pond have been a band for more than two decades at this point. Following an early handful of limited run 7″ singles, their proper debut Bufo Alvarius Amen 29:15 was released in 1995. Those numbers at the end of the album title? That was the running time of the closing track, and it was an epic game-changer. By the end of that year, the band had signed to Matador Records and were opening for Sonic Youth at the Electric Factory.
Over the ensuing years, Bardo Pond released immersive, gripping records at a steady clip. Their sound is built uniquely around the dueling guitar soundscapes of brothers Michael and John Gibbons, the airy flute and emotive vocals of Isobel Sollenberger, the crushing basslines of Clint Takeda and the measured, driving drums of Jason Kourkonis. It comes together in an expansive, meditative whole; LPs like Aminita (1996), Set and Setting (1999) and On The Ellipse (2003) remain cherished nuggets in the modern psych rock world, and the band has performed at festivals like the inaugural, Mogwai-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties gathering in 2000 and Lou Reed’s Vivid LIVE 2010 festival in Sydney, Australia.
In 2013, Bardo Pond released its ninth LP, Peace on Venus, and it finds the band as daring as ever; two of the tracks stretch nicely beyond the ten-minute mark, while “Kali Yuga Blues” is an intense and unbridled overture at 7 minutes and change. When the band opened their Key Studio Session with that song, it was an incredible moment; this is, to date, the loudest band I’ve ever seen in concert (a performance at The Khyber in 2003 was ringing in my head for days in the best possible way) and seeing them work together, locked in, sculpting their sound, amplifiers reverberating in our performance space – unbelievable.
Most exciting about this week’s Key Session: not only did Bardo Pond perform recent selections from Peace on Venus (“Kali Yuma Blues,” “Taste”) and a brilliant track from their self-titled 2010 record called “Await The Star (The Stars Behind)”…they also debuted two unreleased songs. Stream the session below, drift away on the fuzztone waves of “Red Curtains” and thrill to the krautrock crescendo of “untitled.” To experience it live, 20 years since Bufo Alvarius blew minds, see the band plays its first Philadelphia gig of 2015 on Saturday night, February 7th at Underground Arts with Watery Love and Hound. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.