Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Patience Makes Perfect

Bardo Pond
Originally uploaded by bsglaser.
Artist: Bardo Pond
Album: Dilate
Source: Bought used

Here's a perfect example of the dilemma posed in my previous entry: I was patient with Bardo Pond, a band I initially didn't really care for, and it paid off.

Living in Philadelphia in the 90s, it was pretty hard for a music person to miss Bardo Pond. Arguably the flagship band of the so-called "Psychedelphia" scene, the Pond was everywhere: opening for touring bands, appearing on compilations, showing up at events. I must have seen them half a dozen separate times without even trying - they opened for Sonic Youth and Mo Tucker, played inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art during some event sponsored by my erstwhile employer, and were generally just present in the scene. In short, the Pound was unavoidable.

And, to my ears, unenjoyable. I just didn't dig them. Chris lent me some CDs, and I paid attention at the shows. In theory, they were a group I should have loved, with all the little things (stoned & dethroned distorto guitars, a kinda sexy-dirty singer who busted out a flute from time to time, a willingness to improvise way out beyond the edge of good sense) that make for a Good Band For Brian present and totally accounted for.

Still, no dice. But I didn't give up...these guys were blatantly standing in front of a door with a big ol' neon sign in front of it, beckoning me. Come to the Pond...Come to the Pond...

Then it happened. Bardo Pond was one of about 30 or so bands on the bill at Terrastock in Seattle, an occasional modern-psychedelic festival held by the good elves who run the Ptolemaic Terrascope mag. Chris and I jetted across the country to soak in all the guitar-damaged goodness. About halfway through the 2nd day, I steeled myself for even yet another underwhelming Bardo set...which, of course, completely blew my mind.

Maybe it was the festival. Maybe it was all the pot smoke in the air. Maybe it was new drummer Ed Farnsworth, who poured some serious rhythmic glue into the Pond. Whatever it was, it worked. After 45 minutes, the set was over WAY too soon, and I felt like some central lobes of my brain had just gone 10 rounds with a lysergic heavyweight. The key was turned, the door opened.

I picked up Dilate, and have a few other stray Bardo Pond pieces here & there. I don't necessarily need more (or at least not much more...sorry, Eileen), but Bardo Pond stands as an object lesson on why I hold onto discs that have more potential than kinetic energy stored up in the grooves.

SISOSIG? Dilate's a keeper, and to be honest I'm a little bummed I didn't manage to come around while I was still living in Psychedelphia proper. If I had been seeing the Pond once a month or so after the revelation...well, there's no telling how much stuff would be in this entry.


  • Glad it's a keeper. I'm almost ready to buy something from the Pound again: I haven't kept up since the last Matador release, I guess. The tracks I've heard recently seem to warrant going back in, perhaps drug free this time. And, hey, I heard the newest Asteroid #4 returns to the spacerock after years of trying to be the Byrds.

    By Anonymous kholiday, at 12:55 PM  

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