Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond return in June 2006 with Ticket Crystals – their sixth studio album and second for ATP Recordings. Completing a trilogy of work – first embarked on with 2001’s Dilate and centred with 2003’s On the Ellipse – Ticket Crystals resumes the quintet’s signature doom tempo, multi-layered drones while introducing a lighter pastoral, even Tudor-like feel, which rallies throughout against the band’s youthful riff petulance. Guitarist and founder member, Michael Gibbons, elaborates: “On The Ellipse was really influenced by the post 9/11 vibe, this one is the coming out of that... On this album we really investigated the dynamics between acoustic sound and heavy electrics.”
Recorded over two years at the band’s home studio, a handful of the tracks first came to light on Bardo Pond’s 2003 live UK dates alongside kindred spirits and former label mates, Mogwai. ”Yeah, most of the time we go out on the road before we record to get comfortable with the tracks,” remarks Gibbons. Fans of the space rock pioneers may already be familiar with much of the new material owing to the band’s well-publicised endorsement of bootleg recordings.
Loosely formed in 1989 by guitar wielding art student siblings, Michael and John Gibbons, Bardo Pond became a reality in 1991 with the addition of vocalist and flautist, Isobel Sollenberger, bassist, Clint Takeda and drummer, Joe Culver (replaced in 1999 by trainee librarian, Ed Farnsworth). After releasing a string of 7” singles and debut album, Bufo Alvarius Amen 29:15, the fledgling band signed to Matador Records, for whom they produced their breakthrough second album, 1996’s Amanita. Bardo Pond released a further three albums for Matador – Lapsed (1997), Set and Setting (1999), Dilate (2001) – in addition to a number of spin off releases, garnered from outtakes and side projects and sold in strictly limited numbers at the band’s acclaimed and increasingly improvisational live shows.
After accepting a personal invite from Thurston Moore to appear at the Sonic Youth curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2001, Bardo Pond’s hypnotic live set impressed festival promoter, Barry Hogan, so much so that he immediately signed the band to the event’s sister label, ATP Recordings, and rush released their fifth album, On the Ellipse.
Tracking down the elusive balance between extensive improvisation and acutely structured arrangements, Bardo Pond’s latest long-player, Ticket Crystals, includes the spellbinding Moonshine (a ten-minute plus ethereal expedition that immediately recalls the acoustic intricacy of Led Zeppelin III coupled with the contemporary quirkiness of Coco Rosie) and live favourite and album opener, Destroying Angel, which only just manages to contain the sheer force of the brothers Gibbons amplification and vocalist and flautist Isobel Sollenberger‘s haunting and occasionally terrifying tones. Also featured on the album is the band’s unique reworking of The Beatles’ White Album classic, Cry Baby Cry, which was originally recorded for and broadcast by the BBC as part of their commemorations of the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.
BARDO POND are:
Isobel Sollenberger – vocals / flute
Michael Gibbons – guitar
John Gibbons – guitar
Clint Takeda – bass
Ed Farnsworth – drums