Bardo Pond – Peace On Venus

Bardo Pond - Peace On Venus

Bardo Pond – Peace On Venus

With a body of work that is sprawling in both its discography entries and its musical mileage, late-comers to Bardo Pond’s world have it tough when seeking to catch-up on and keep-up with the band’s epic psyche-rock journeying, which began twenty or so years ago.  Part of the answer is to stop worrying though, grab some essential ‘official’ albums (such as 2001’s Dilate, 2006’s Ticket Crystals and 2010’s self-titled set), hunt out some choice ‘extracurricular’ outpourings (like this year’s already rare Rise Above It All covers release for Record Store Day) and then be poised for the latest step from the cosmic titans. And here it is.

After a few recent diversions, Peace On Venus is essentially Bardo Pond heading back to the base camp to recharge and reconfigure.  As the group’s Michael Gibbons has stated, this new record was built with the intention of fitting over the length of single vinyl LP, as a condensed “less is more statement.”  Naturally, Bardo Pond’s concept of ‘less is more’ isn’t quite the same as your average guitar-slinging enterprise, given that Peace On Venus spreads its five songs over 39 minutes. However, compared to the more multi-textured and diverse reach of 2010’s eponymous formal prequel, there is a significant shift back to a rawer and almost exclusively plugged-in live-centric approach, with the core guitars-bass-drum framework only augmented by Isobel Sollenberger’s voice and flute.  Thus the collection pours itself out through the heavy sludge of “Kali Yuga Blues,” via the more spacious and sensual “Taste,” across the fuzz-drenched nausea of “Fir,” over the strung-out vocal-free yet flute-led “Chance” and into the closing narcotic swirl of “Before The Moon,” with Bardo Pond’s well-drilled ensemble ethic in remarkably strong – although sometimes oppressive – condition.

Given its largely austere terrain and relatively unvaried inclines, Peace On Venus is not ultimately a Bardo Pond album that lends itself to easy traversing.  However, it still confidently captures a group holding its own against latter-day and more voguish heavy-psychedelic peddlers, who will no doubt be outlived during Bardo Pond’s third decade.

Fire Records