Bardo Pond Ticket Crystals

Philadelphia’s proud psychedelic sons and daughter continue their long sunward trek via riff and drone express. Like most ensembles that last more than a decade, Bardo Pond are frequently warmly acknowledged for their longevity and decreasingly celebrated for their work. Instead of merely padding their discography, the band have come back with their best work since 1997’s Lapsed. Instead of embracing current trends of noise rock or freak folk, neither of which would stretch them far out of shape, they’ve stripped and stepped back to feature the song as central, albeit pushing its limits through time and space. Opener "Destroying Angel” is a head-on collision of Rust-era Crazy Horse and early Black Sabbath but with a haunted, vulnerable heart. Isobel Sollenberger’s vocals and flute ring clear on "Isle,” a track that imagines the improbable joining of Nico and Kate Bush atop a lazily churning sea of guitars. A cover of the Beatles’ "Cry Baby Cry” seems out of place, but after a reverent opening the band pull the original into their own smoky orbit. It also serves as a momentary rest stop before embarking on the nearly 20-minute space walk that is "FC II.” A balanced consideration of acoustic instruments, voice and quiet space opens room for breath at key points over the album’s 77 minutes. It is a voyage that makes us glad we bought our tickets so far in advance. (ATP)