Bardo Pond | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bardo Pond 

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Bardo Pond may have gone three years without putting out a proper record of songs, but the Philadelphia-based quintet hasn't been slacking. Instead they've focused on no-net improvisation--recording a fantastic collaboration with Charalambides guitarist Tom Carter and issuing a CD-R series of practice-space jams that were later cherry-picked for the double-disc set Selections: Volumes I-IV--and honing their production skills in the studio they've owned since the late 90s. They've returned to actual songs with the new Ticket Crystals (ATP), a record that's equal parts spontaneous invention and studio intervention, and also the group's most ambitious and diverse effort to date. "Father Jod" is completely improvised, but the inclusion of dialogue from El Topo makes it feel like a collage. The vertiginous psych-folk tune "Lost Word" features a complex weave of backward instruments and voices that swirls around Isobel Sollenberger's melancholy moan and John and Michael Gibbons' guitar melodies. The 18-minute "FC II" is the record's most radical departure from the past--emphasizing empty space and springy rhythms--and also its finest moment. Rasping multitracked violin and watery wah-wah guitars float over an almost dubby beat, like a mash-up of Tony Conrad and Faust's Inside the Dream Syndicate and Miles Davis's "He Loved Him Madly" mixed by Augustus Pablo. Then the fuzzboxes kick in, the guitars start to roar, and what felt like a trip through space becomes a rapid descent into the center of a black hole. Local space rockers Grimble Grumble and Zelienople open. Tue 6/13, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

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