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Volume 8
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  • Philadelphia space rock institution Bardo Pond have typically reserved their numerically titled releases for tour-only CD-Rs, but the eighth installment appears as a proper album on Fire Records, who have issued most of the band's work since 2010. As with the other Volumes, this one appears to consist of excerpts from jam sessions and improvisations, although Bardo Pond's music always seems sprawling and boundless, even when they're following some sort of structure. While 2017's Under the Pines was focused on lyrics and often quite emotionally heavy, Vol. 8 is largely instrumental, and feels like a release of all the weight carried by the previous outing. Bardo Pond ramble and space out, following their collective subconsciousness and freeing themselves of earthly burdens. The tracks fade in and out rather than having proper beginnings and endings, and they're all delivered with power and spirit at loose, unhurried tempos. On "Flayed Wish," the guitars have a unique stretching, gliding tone, and occasionally they hit a harsh, jagged, distorted pitch. "Power Children" is much lighter and gauzier, with acoustic guitars, flutes, and glowing reverb, but some distant feedback bubbles up, along with drifting drums and near-whispered vocals. "Cud" is a much more direct, solitary guitar miniature, and it serves as a breather before the intense 17-minute crawl "And I Will," which is easily the headiest, druggiest portion of the album. Isobel Sollenberger's flute and vocals are prominent, but still overwhelmed by echo and the storming guitars and drums, and the entire track serves as a colossal slow-motion meltdown. There really isn't any other way the album could plausibly end. Bardo Pond seem to be on an eternal, destination-free odyssey, and Vol. 8 is another strong stop on their trek. ~ Paul Simpson
Professional Reviews
Magnet - "Isobel Sollenberger's echo-multiplied voice and Jason Kourkounis' artfully stumbling drums erode the guitars' solidity, spiking the record's most massive moments with paradoxical vulnerability."
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