Psychedelic Band Finds the Untouched Spaces

April 11th, 2011

Bardo Pond – Mercury Lounge – April 10, 2011

Every once in a while the ecstatic drone of new psychedelic music surfaces from the hidden basements and lofts of Brooklyn and beyond to allow the mainstream a glimpse of what the enlightened few have already discovered. The most recent chance to catch one particular flavor of mind music was at precisely midnight on Saturday when Philadelphia’s Bardo Pond brought the noise down into a packed room at Mercury Lounge.

Bardo Pond, playing for stretches of five, eight or 10-plus minutes, did their set as an act in inversion. With a pair of droning (occasionally slide) guitars and nonstop thunder from the bass and drums, the themes and melody were found in the untouched spaces, of which there were few. And depending upon your perspective, lead singer Isobel Sollenberger was either the focus of the show or completely irrelevant. Her presence was like that of a perverted Snow White. Instead of friendly cartoon animals appearing when she sang, Sollenberger seemed to summon an evil swirl of cacophony every time she opened her mouth.

The key words were loud and intense—the constant stream of noise was a deep-tissue massage in one particular spot causing that place to go numb while raising the hairs everywhere else. Seventy minutes passed in the blink of an eye and then it was back to reality for the crowd and back to the basement for the music … until next time. —A. Stein