BARDO POND: LAPSED (1997)
1) Tommy Gun Angel; 2) Pick My Brain; 3) Flux; 4) Anandamide; 5) Green Man; 6) Straw Dog; 7) Aldrin.
Fourty-seven minutes? You must be joking. A proper Bardo Pond album never lasts less than eight billion hours — fourty-seven minutes is not even long enough to overcome the initial boredom stage, let alone the ensuing unbearable hatred stage, the languid fatigue stage, the dizzy trance stage, and the total brain shutdown coma stage. And since, roughly approximated, all Bardo Pond albums always sound the same, the drastic reduction in length is more or less the main difference between Amanita and Lapsed — a difference that many will be able to tolerate and some will even welcome, but a difference that is not quite loyal to the band's essence.
Actually, there is one more catch: there is a bit too much sludge and noise here for my liking — for all their love of distortion, Bardo Pond are really at their best when they tone down the tide and rock you to unconsciousness with slow, echoey, transcendental-meditation-type patterns. On Lapsed, there is only one such number — ʽAldrinʼ comes in last and does the right thing for the longest time (14:19), with a single «delayed» bass line providing the foundation and subsequent layers of Isobel's somnambulant voice and psycho guitars slowly... very slowly transform it from a threatening rumble to all-out roar. The crescendo is handled perfectly: it is only once the peak level has been attained that the tune runs out of further things to say — it should have been cut off somewhere around the twelve minutes mark, I'd say, in an ʽI Want Youʼ-type manner, but then again, what do I really know about the regulations of modern day musical shamanism...
As for the other tracks, well, this time around we may perceive a little extra emphasis on distorted slide guitars — they enter the picture on track two, ʽPick My Brainʼ, in delightfully «poisonous» mode (think Allman Brothers who suddenly decided to do something in Black Sabbath style), and then reappear on ʽStraw Dogʼ where they are further overloaded with a wah-wah effect. Both of these slide patterns, as predictably repetitive as they are, work far more efficiently on my brain than the simpler, cruder Neil Young-ish sludge of ʽTommy Gun Angelʼ and ʽFluxʼ, or the deeply mixed space-rock ambience of ʽGreen Manʼ — see, these guys are really quite diverse, but somehow their «pseudo-roots-rock jamming» seems more interesting here than their psychedelic drones and sheer noise excursions.
Nevertheless, passing individual judgements on this stuff makes about as much sense as trying to memorize all fourteen minutes of ʽAldrinʼ and then hum them to your friends. You either hate Bardo Pond as an institution, or you respect them and own exactly one of their albums (in which case Lapsed, being so short, is not it), or you love them and then they can do no wrong — even if with music like this, they could have very easily pushed out fifteen LPs per year (like their somewhat ideologically similar Japanese colleagues, Acid Mothers' Temple). Then again, with this «shortened» approach they might really be trying to tell us that they do care about each single second, and that the point is that you should engulf yourself in all the tiny intricacies — so pardon me in advance if I am in too much of a hustle-bustle here, missing all the expected epiphanies and the final enlightenment.