BARDO POND: REFULGO (2014)
1) Die Easy; 2) Apple Eye; 3) Dragonfly; 4) Blues Tune; 5) Trip Fuck; 6) Hummingbird Mountain; 7) New Drunks; 8) Affa; 9) Tests For New Swords; 10) Good Friday; 11) Jungle Tune; 12) Sangh Seriatim.
Ninety minutes of Bardo Pond! That's just about the right length for these guys, I'd think — the proper way to experience a Bardo Pond song is to be bored silly with it for the first ten minutes, only to find out that for the second ten minutes of it your body has been disintegrated and your mind has melded with the furniture. But even for a full-length album from the world's toughest pack of volcanic psychedelic jammers, ninety minutes would be too much, and indeed, Refulgo is not a brand new Brado Pond record, but rather a cleaned-up, remastered version of several of their singles, EP-only tracks and rarities from circa 1994-96. Released, for the pleasure of the truly delicate audiophile, exclusively on four sides of 140 gram Dutch vinyl — these guys take their vibes damn seriously, even if there is nothing to prevent certain filthy sonic perverts from converting the vibes' sensual beauty into soulless MP3.
In any case, whatever be the format or bitrate, Refulgo still feels like a cohesive album — back in 1994-96, Bardo Pond weren't exactly the epitome of diversity, and these tracks, like Amanita or any other masterpiece from that era, all sound the same way. If you are very careful, there does seem to emerge some sort of evolutionary pattern, though: some of the earliest tracks have a distinct blues sheen — ʽDie Easyʼ is a Bardo Pond-style variation on ʽIn My Time Of Dyingʼ, and one of the tracks, for the lack of a better idea, is simply called ʽBlues Tuneʼ. By the time we get to ʽTrip Fuckʼ and ʽNew Drunksʼ, however, the band has already lost conscious touch with any influences and simply lets itself gets carried away on waves of noise and hallucinatory images wherever their subconscious takes them.
Offering newly worded descriptions for individual tracks is impossible due to severe limitations on my verbal abilities and power of imagination — better just check out my previous review of Amanita once again — but I must repeat that a 20-minute length for ʽSangh Seriatimʼ is completely justified, because listening to that song is like being a participant in an accelerated terraforming process, where the Gibbons brothers play Supernatural Building Team, transforming their guitars into excavators, drills, and welding machines, and Isobel Sollenberger plays the Mother Earth Spirit breathing life into creation. There's a magnificent droning riff ruling over most of these 20 minutes, against which everything is taking place, and once the psychedelics grab hold of you, time pretty much ceases to exist anyway.
Although I am not usually in the mood of handling out limitless thumbs up to series of albums that sound the same, Bardo Pond circa 1994-96 were such an unstoppable force of alien nature that just about everything they did in those years is equally treasurable (like Can circa 1969-72), before they started running out of «natural» ideas and shortening their records for no reason. Oh, and, for the record, ʽBlues Tuneʼ pretty much sets up the blueprint for the entire career of that Black Mountain band — big fat heavy stoner blues-rock with a nod to the 1970s, but revved up to production heights of the 1990s and beyond.