Bardo Pond Selections Volumes 1-4

Although they released several high-profile albums on Matador in the mid-’90s, the band at the forefront of the last decade’s space rock resurgence were passed over in many ways, never quite catching on in the way people had anticipated, even though they have remained consistent. Whereas on their albums that consistency offers a reliable base on which to build off in new directions, this two-disc collection of CD-Rs merely showcases consistency as sameness. To the band’s credit, this material was never officially released at the time of its making because much of what is here constitutes outtakes from album sessions, rehearsals — stuff that got cut. So it goes without saying that Selections will be of interest mostly to completists, but shouldn’t serve as anything more. Many of these songs are jams needlessly stretching over nine minutes long without ever committing to one idea or the next (aka this is Bardo Pond exercising). One would expect that these sessions would present the band in a more adventurous light, willing to try out avenues they weren’t willing to commit to an audience. But no, the results are just one-dimensional takes on the same sound. Disappointing. (ATP)