Bardo Pond - Yntra [Latitudes - 2012]As with the other entries in the Latitudes series, Yntra showcases a band operating within the outer limits of heavy guitar music that has descended upon the Southern Records studio to perform and produce a limited edition record. Meant to be a snapshot of whatever the band is doing at the time, these records also tend to showcase great playing from artists who are renowned for their live capabilities.
In this case, the band is Philadelphia’s longstanding Bardo Pond, and the quality of the playing cannot be understated. Centered around the twin guitar attack of Michael and John Gibbons since the band’s inception 20 years ago, their music is nuanced and intricate, with both brothers doing completely different things at the same time and yet demonstrating a keen understanding of how to share the spotlight.
Bardo Pond have always been known for their combination of hazy guitar noise and spaced-out post-rock, and fans of the band already know what to expect. For newcomers, they’ve doled out three wildly different pieces which makes for a refreshing but inconsistent listen that might leave listeners scratching their heads.
The best piece here is the “The Cawl,” which builds out of a staccato groove to find an irrepressible no-wave/post-punk energy not typical of most space rock. And while the piece is simply saturated with squiggly guitar noise, it functions merely as background texture, taking nothing away from the stellar rhythm section or the soaring wordless female vocal, courtesy of Isobel Sollenberger, that helps the song take flight. The end result is clearly what the Banshees really wanted their plodding rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” to sound like all those years ago.
The other two pieces sound like different bands. “Side to Side” is built around a doomy, fuzzy guitar riff and a downcast vocal clearly derived from ‘70s metal. It has about two minutes worth of ideas sustained for four times that length. “A Crossing,” meanwhile, is a 20-minute noise jam (with Isobel on flute!) that really focuses on guitar effects and soloing but hardly takes any notable form at all. That being said, it’s also the only piece on the record that loses track of time while it dives into messy psychedelic bliss with joyful abandon.Richard T Williams