Set and Setting LP/CD

BARDO POND
Set and Setting
Matador ***

After 1997's Lapsed showed they could write a song under 10 minutes long, Philly's finest avant-psych jammers stretch out again, though their headspace is now less chemically dependent and more informed by gritty blues and dub sludge. Which means Set and Setting often plods where Bardo used to soar, only occasionally producing the transcendental experiences of which they're capable (not to mention the fact that the erotic mystery of Isobel Sollenberger's airy mumbles is diminished somewhat when you can actually understand what she's saying). As usual, the most intoxicating songs are the ones with exotic titles (like "Datura," an oceanic mass of reverberating riffs), and the fact that Bardo can transform a sleazy 11-minute dirge ("Wicked Stick Man") into a potential coital soundtrack proves that their powers of hypnosis are still to be feared. — SB

[This review originally appeared in Toronto's Eye Weekly, October 1999. Reprinted without permission.]

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