Set and Setting
Released August 10 1999
Bardo Pond wages intensity like none other. The music is a foaming, unbridled creature, constantly reinventing itself to unexplored parameters of Outness. Any musicians you can mention – be it High Rise, Sun Ra, Dead C, Masonna, Ives, etc. – can only indicate the forceful uniqueness at play here. Bardo Pond is your band. It’s the one you put on while sleeping late in your parents’ rec room basement, soaking up air-conditioning and watching wrestling on mute. They don’t just scare the shit out of people. They’re also damn incredible.
It’s best to have no other distractions because music rarely reaches this level of mindfulness, showering down equations of hypnotic effluvia to all entry points and filtering transcendent beauty through a dirty undergrowth. So many bands attempt density simply through effects and fractured singing. To consider Bardo Pond in that realm is like calling John Coltrane occasionally interesting stoner jazz. Each song on 1999’s Set And Setting carefully builds a monolith of beauty, indulging the parameters of sound with thoughtful consideration as to what will buzz between the drumbeats before being obliterated.
Over the years, Bardo Pond have morphed into a unit with a singular vision, allowing for a wide range of sounds while pushing the furthest extremes of experimentation. “Again” shows how far they can push the rock, while “Datura” takes ambient repetition to deeper, inner levels. In a lesser band’s hands, this might be indulgent. Bardo Pond, however, are the skilled abstract expressionists of rock; from their violent, discordant gestures comes an art of immense maturity and inexplicable beauty. Listen in through the layers of confusion to hear the inner structure of how the noise is contained–it’s not unconditioned feedback but composed chaos, seething with soulful emotion set to slow tempo.