Bardo Pond On the Ellipse

Philadelphia’s premier psychedelic ensemble has found a new home with the ATP label, run by the people responsible for the highly successful All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals in the UK and U.S. The band had issued a string of amazing but under-appreciated albums on the Matador label but never seemed to get the sort of just acclaim many felt they deserved. It’s hard to say if switching labels at this point in their career may be the best move career-wise for the drone-heavy quintet, but when you consider that they are now label-mates with a reformed Magic Band (minus Captain Beefheart, of course) and Jackie-O Motherfucker, perhaps ATP will be a better fit. As for the music itself, it comes as little surprise that this is another great Bardo Pond album. Following in the footsteps of its 2001 predecessor Dilate, On the Ellipse finds the band walking the fine line between long, folk strewn ballads and heavy punch-drunk riffery. The press release says it’s like a mixture of the heaviest Black Sabbath licks and the mellow acid folk of Led Zeppelin’s third album. I think replacing Led Zeppelin with Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention or Ireland’s Mellow Candle would be a more appropriate choice, considering vocalist Isobel’s hauntingly beautiful vocal melodies and exquisite flute playing. Witness the haunting third track, "Dom’s Lament,” for an example of how her flute playing mixed with mind-numbing guitar drones can take you to another place in no time. Offering up six new tracks from the band in just over 53 minutes, On the Ellipse gets my vote for head-fuck album of the year. It just doesn’t get any better than this. (ATP)