BARDO POND Lapsed
Bardo Pond's Amanita was the kind of record that made you want to recline back into those high-school days and take up dope as a pastime once more. It made you realise how truly transcendent and progressive (try to think of the word how it should be thought of) space-rock, prog-rock, post-rock, and whatever-other-stickering you-can-cook-up-rock can be. It made you realise how far Sonic Youth had slipped. How really bad Pink Floyd became (are still becoming?). How flute really can have a place in rock. How flares, in fact, really are cool. And that a wagonfull of vintage pedals, and a bombasting wall of effects, can be something to be truly thankful for. For those that plugged in the headphones, the riff returned to no longer being solely the form of the meticulous and clean-cut; it again howled, and sulked, and droned, and melted, and wigged right on out into space. It was noise-fucking-rock. So Bardo Pond, in a way, have got a hard act to follow; even if a simple reappropriation of themselves would thoroughly suffice.
As Lapsed launches itself, one thing is thoroughly thrust right to the fore — VOLUME. Feel the amps straining, the signal crackling; look at your speakers vibrate; think 'hang on, the volume is even turned up'. As an opener, Bardo Pond have literally exploded with Tommy Gun Angel, in which they try that the high frequency / Rumination bulldozing wall-of-sheer-noise vibe. It works, but not with as much addictive charisma. What follows trails off in a similarly smoky-hazed vibe; with the grooves working their own sheer power in a somewhat strangely-behaved way. Single-digit timesheets. Contoured ideas. Cleanly-recorded ideas. Vocal duties shared, but not in that schizophrenic is-that-the-drugs-talking way. Well-mannered anarchy and amp-abuse. Hmmm...
Perhaps the song on Lapsed most conducive to mind-widening is the one in which they pare all the grunt back; closer Aldrin (space really is the place, huh) eeking beautifully tremulous waves of guitar over its ghosting, drifting, building, simple progression; Isobel Sollenberger mumbling some angel-headed angelic whispers; before the song as a whole is practically conducting a quarter-of-an-hour clinic in what makes psychedelia great. Which is, well, umm, nothing that can be taught in a clinic. Something about guitar-tone (of course). Something about groove (no doubt). Something about a connection (man). And something about heart.
So, as Buzz Aldrin himself said in appearance on the Simpsons (oh, yes, I am a child of the 90s), perhaps in unerring reference to just what Bardo Pond's Matador Records output has been: "two, comes right after one". That, translated through deferral of the laws of physics, simply means thus: Lapsed — while still a fucking monster of a record — is secondary to Amanita chronologically, musically, and spiritually. There's a hole in my soul through which the rock does roll... (NOV 97)
[Written by Anthony Carew for Gravity Girl, November 1997. The review used to be available online, but is no longer. Reprinted without permission.]