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Bardo Pond – 'Peace on Venus' album review

The most accessible record yet by Philadelphia's psychedelic dreamers

Bardo Pond – Peace on Venus
By James Manning |
Since 1989, Philadelphia band Bardo Pond have been making fuzzed up, blissed out, unashamedly narcotic psychedelic rock that combines the dreamily distorted guitar whirls of My Bloody Valentine or ‘Methodrone’-era The Brian Jonestown Massacre with a free-and-easy, late-’60s-ish spirit. ‘Peace on Venus’ is their ninth album – or thirteenth, if you include the early homemade cassettes that circulated on the Philly underground scene before the band’s first record deal. It doesn’t advance their sound much beyond the template laid down on their stoned and yearning ‘Amanita’ and ‘Lapsed’ albums of 1996 and 1997 – but then again they’re already so far out that further innovation is hardly the point at this stage.

Instead, what ‘Peace on Venus’ offers is a condensed version of those sounds. At 40 minutes it’s the band’s shortest and most approachable album to date: a five-track trip of slow, strange loveliness. The drums crash and the amped up guitar noise crackles tensely, but Isabel Sollenberger’s high-pitched voice and flute shine through the murk. Prefacing the final two songs, which come in at over ten minutes apiece, ‘Fir’ begins like a doom metal track put through a chain of 12 consecutive reverb pedals.

Sollenberger assures us, from behind her somniferous wall of sound on opening song ‘Kali Yuga Blues’, that ‘it’s going to be alright’. That’s quite a statement for a song named after the Hindu end of days, but settle into ‘Peace on Venus’, and you’ll find that – despite drones, global warming and austerity – such hippyish tropes can still be surprisingly effective when deployed like this: from the middle of a storm that builds and builds, and never breaks. Buy this album here

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