Today's Artists are an American psychedelic rock band formed in 1991, and who are currently signed to London-based label Fire Records. Their music is often classified as space rock, acid rock, post-rock, shoegazing, noise or psychedelic rock. Some album titles have been derived from the names of esoteric psychedelic substances. Their sound has been likened to Pink Floyd, Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine amongst others. .....N'Joy
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Bardo Pond was the flagship band of Philly's "Psychedelphia" space rock movement, which also included the likes of Aspera, Asteroid No. 4, the Azusa Plane, and tangentially the Lilys. Explicitly drug-inspired -- their titles were filled with obscure references to psychedelics -- they favored lengthy, deliberate sound explorations filled with all the hallmarks of modern-day space rock: droning guitars, thick distortion, feedback, reverb, and washes of white noise. Hints of blues structure often cropped up, but Bardo Pond's earliest roots lay with avant-garde noisemakers from the realm of free jazz and from New York's no wave movement and downtown Knitting Factory scene. As their musicianship improved, the band gradually incorporated more traditional influences, but maintained their affinity for the outer fringes of music. Thus, their brand of space rock echoed not just genre staples like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd, but jam-happy Krautrockers (Amon Düül, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel, Guru Guru) and experimental indie heroes (Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and especially Spacemen 3). With a steady stream of releases on Matador, the band stuck around long enough to draw comparisons to the spacier, noisier contingent of post-rockers, like Mogwai and Flying Saucer Attack.
Bardo Pond was formed in Philadelphia in 1989 by guitar-playing brothers Michael and John Gibbons, who'd long had an interest in making free-form noise, though they didn't pick up non-percussion instruments until attending art school in their twenties. Their first collaborator was guitarist Clint Takeda, a friend of Michael's who shared their enthusiasm for free music. Over the next two years, the band held twice-weekly jam sessions in their living room. At first, their aesthetic was one of naïve, unfettered freedom, but they slowly grew convinced of the need for some semblance of structure and proper instrumental technique. Takeda christened the band Bardo Pond in 1991, after a location described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. By that time, they'd picked up new members in vocalist/flute player Isobel Sollenberger and drummer Bob Sentz, both art academy classmates of the Gibbons brothers.
Over 1992-1993, Bardo Pond issued five self-released cassettes. No Hashish No Change Money No Saki Saki got remastered and rereleased in 2009 Toward the end of that run, Sentz quit the band to concentrate on his painting, and was replaced by Joe Culver. Takeda had begun to drift away from the band after graduation, moving first to New York and then to Seattle, which gave Michael Gibbons a chance to develop his guitar playing further. The band came to the attention of the small, singles-oriented Compulsiv label, and issued their first proper 7", "Die Easy" b/w "Apple Eye," in early 1994; another one, "Trip Fuck" b/w "Hummingbird Mountain," arrived not long after on the Drunken Fish imprint. A third single, "Dragonfly" b/w "Blues Tune," was out by the end of the year, and the group began work on its full-length debut for Drunken Fish. Clint Takeda, who'd kept in touch with the band, decided he wanted to return, and was brought back into the fold as the full-time bassist.
Bardo Pond issued its first album, Bufo Alvarius Amen 29:15, in early 1995; its title was taken from the scientific name for the notorious hallucinogenic toad found in the western U.S. The CD version appended "Amen 29:15," a near-half-hour jam that marked Takeda's recorded debut with the band. Later that year, Compulsiv released a CD EP of leftover tracks called Big Laughing Jym. Bufo Alvarius sparked the interest of Matador Records, which signed Bardo Pond and issued their breakthrough sophomore effort, Amanita, in 1996. Titled after a little-known hallucinogen from India, the album won critical praise and substantially heightened the band's profile, as did their increasingly improvisational live shows.
1997's Lapsed was a leaner, more focused effort that refined and sharpened Bardo Pond's sound; it too was greeted enthusiastically, with many fans still ranking it as the group's finest effort. That same year, the quintet's side project with New Zealand guitarist Roy Montgomery, Hash Jar Tempo, saw the release of the first of two albums; titled Well Oiled, it had been recorded during a 1995 jam session, and appeared on Drunken Fish. The results of another jam session, this one from 1998, were issued a year later as Under Glass. Bardo Pond itself also returned in 1999 with Set and Setting, which had second drummer Ed Farnsworth beginning to assume some of new family man Culver's duties. It also found Sollenberger debuting her new second instrument, violin.
2000 saw the band embarking on several side ventures from Matador; there was a 10" limited-edition EP on Three Lobed called Slab, which featured outtakes from the Set and Setting sessions, and they also inaugurated a series of self-released CD-Rs (sold through their website and on tours) with Vol. I. Like its followers, Vol. I was a collection of improvisational jams and home-studio outtakes. The band returned with its fourth Matador album, Dilate, in 2001; by now, Culver had officially retired from the band, leaving Farnsworth as the full-time drummer. A tour with Mogwai followed in support that spring, and Matador issued a small-scale EP culling performances from both bands. Three more volumes in the Bardo Pond CD-R series followed over 2002-2003, as well as another EP for Three Lobed, 2002's Purposeful Availment. In the meantime, Bardo Pond and Matador abruptly parted ways; after playing the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, the band signed with its spin-off label of the same name, and debuted with the full-length On the Ellipse in 2003. 2005 saw a wider release of the material from the CD-R series in Selections, Vols. 1-4, a two-disc collection of highlights. Ticket Crystals, a mellower, more atmospheric work, arrived the following year.
In 2012, the band issued Yntra, a three-song EP recorded for Southern Records spin-off label Latitudes while the band was on a stopover in London. They issued the two-track covers 12" Rise Above It All on Record Store Day in April of 2013, featuring readings of Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" and Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has a Master Plan." This was followed by the full-length Peace on Venus in October. Refulgo, a double LP compilation of tracks recorded prior to the release of Bufo Alvarius, appeared on Three Lobed in 2014. Two more Record Store Day EPs, Looking for Another Place and Is There a Heaven?, respectively appeared in 2014 and 2015, and were compiled on the triple-CD Record Store Day Trilogy. Also in 2015, the group shared a split-LP with Yo La Tengo as part of Three Lobed's Parallelogram series. In 2016, Bardo Pond collaborated with Acid Mothers Temple and Guru Guru, resulting in double-LP Acid Guru Pond. Bardo Pond's full-length Under the Pines followed in 2017, and Volume 8 appeared in 2018.
The members of Bardo Pond also operate a number of side projects.
500 mg is Michael Gibbons' solo project.
Alasehir is a psychedelic/stoner rock trio featuring Michael Gibbons, John Gibbons and Jason Kourkounis.
Alumbrados produces psychedelic folk/drone music and consists of Michael Gibbons, John Gibbons, Michael Zanghi and Aaron Igler.
Prairie Dog Flesh is more improvisational and rearranges the members of Bardo Pond with Takeda on vocals.
Hash Jar Tempo is a collaboration between Bardo Pond and Roy Montgomery. A pun on Ash Ra Tempel, this project resulted from two "marathon jam/recording sessions" between the two parties and produced two albums: Well Oiled (released in 1997, recorded in 1995) and Under Glass (released in 1999, recorded in 1998).
LSD Pond is a collaboration between Bardo Pond and Japanese psychedelic rock band LSD March. A self-titled album was released in 2008 and contains two discs with live recordings of two nights of jamming.
Moon Phantoms is a collaboration between Bardo Pond and Japanese psychedelic rock band Suishou No Fune. Their self-titled album was released in 2009.
Third Troll features Michael and John Gibbons (guitars), Sollenberger (flute), and includes Kevin Moist (saxophone) and Aaron Igler (synths).
Baikal conducts free form psych experiments. The band consists of John Gibbons, Michael Gibbons, Clint Takeda and Jason Kourkonis. They have released a self-titled album on Important Records.
Vapour Theories is a duo of Michael and John Gibbons. They have released two albums: 'Decant' (self-released), and 'Joint Chiefs' (The Lotus Sound).
Jason Kourkounis participated as drummer 72 in the Boredoms' 77 Boadrum performance which occurred on July 7, 2007, at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn, New York. He is also currently in Hot Snakes and The Night Marchers, and previously played drums for The Delta 72, The Burning Brides, and Mule (band).
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Legends of DMT-rock! Lo-fi spaced-out smoked-out jams. This self-released cassette, recorded in 1993, is one in a series of cassettes and demos that were handed out and sent to various record labels. Bardo Pond's earliest roots lay with avant-garde noisemakers from the realm of free jazz and from New York's no wave movement and downtown Knitting Factory scene. As their musicianship improved, the band gradually incorporated more traditional influences, but maintained their affinity for the outer fringes of music. A remastered CDr copy is up for grabs here
Bardo Pond - No Hashish No Change Money No Saki Saki (flac 344mb)
01 Hummingbird Mountain 7:35
02 Earth + Sky 2:30
03 Sometimes Words 5:07
04 High Horse 5:56
05 I Forgot 6:58
06 Rupture 6:31
07 Get Yourself 2:00
08 Amen 9:02
09 Transistor 2:08
10 Round + Round 6:39
11 Lag 2:03
Bardo Pond - No Hashish No Change Money No Saki Saki (ogg 121mb)
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It starts with feedback, hum, and fuzz, then a heavy guitar riff emerging from the murk -- arguably Bardo Pond in a nutshell. Then again, enough other bands do the same thing, so why should the Pond get singled out? It's hard to pin down an exact reason, but whatever "it" is that a band needs to connect, they've got it. The slow, stony pace that "Adhesive" establishes for Bufo Alvarius Amen 29:15 continues through the album's remaining tracks, but in such a way that Bardo Pond rapidly become their own band and not merely the sum of their influences. There's something about the combination of lo-fi crunch, post-shoegaze bliss-out, stoner Quaalude head-nodding, and Loop/Spacemen 3-inspired drone that's truly unique. Standout moments abound: "Back Porch" has a series of instrumental breaks with brief, beautiful guitar lines, while on the soft jangle of "On a Side Street," various solos unfold slowly but surely in the background as lowly sung lyrics amble about. "Capillary River" has some astonishing, transcendent soloing in the middle of the song, building up to a brilliant final verse as Gibbons' vocals are lost in feedback and haze. The low-key shuffle/drone "Absence" is a good showcase for Sollenberger's singing -- sweeter and clearer here than might be expected. The CD version includes what might be the ultimate head-trip of them all, at least for this particular album: the 30-minute "Amen." The central part of the song is a fairly simple chord progression repeated again and again, but it's the various touches throughout the number -- the extra drones, watery deep reverb on the bass, and slow overall rhythm -- that make it the understated monster it is.
Bardo Pond - Bufo Alvarius (flac 428mb)
01 Adhesive 4:36
02 Back Porch 4:52
03 On A Side Street 7:25
04 Capillary River 6:24
05 No Time To Waste 6:59
06 Absence 8:38
07 Vent 4:44
08 Amen 29:21
Bardo Pond - Bufo Alvarius (ogg 166mb)
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Not changing all that much but whipping up just as compelling a mix of drone, volume, and blissout as before, on Amanita the now officially-a-quintet Pond cranked the amps, switched on the pedals, and let fly with 11 monster songs. After a four-minute series of guitar feedback and fuzz, "Limerick" fully kicks in the album with a slow, stoned groove that's as big as one could want it to be, with Sollenberger's echoed vocals emerging out of somewhere while the slow shuffled beat builds higher and higher. Effortlessly combining psychedelic inspirations from Pink Floyd's original explorations to the more modern reachings into the beyond by My Bloody Valentine and Main, it's a simply stunning way to begin an equally stunning album. Many of the songs take a generally quieter approach before fully turning on the riff action. Two good examples are "Tantric Porno," where things are more understatedly shuffled before pumping up the volume and riff-out in the midsection, and the similarly paced "Yellow Turban," with its slow, downward crawl and wonderful guitar from the Gibbons brothers, alternately watery, weird, loud, and crumbling. Another song of note in this vein is the floating "Rumination," sounding not dissimilar at points to the crystalline melancholy also explored by labelmate and future collaborator Roy Montgomery. Otherwise, it's tune-up and zone-out to the max. "The High Frequency," for instance, steps away from lyrical meaning by burying what sounds like a random selection of spoken word snippets deep in the mix, just letting that wash of sound do what it does. Final number "RM" lets Sollenberger more clearly contribute her flute to the proceedings, while in general, whipping a last conclusive blast of sound to close out an astonishing and inspiring album.
Bardo Pond - Amanita (flac 487mb)
01 Limerick 10:21
02 Sentence 5:08
03 Tantric Porno 6:13
04 Wank 5:28
05 The High Frequency 6:51
06 Sometimes Words 4:38
07 Yellow Turban 7:38
08 Rumination 6:22
09 Be A Fish 4:42
10 Tapir Song 7:32
11 RM 9:18
Bardo Pond - Amanita (ogg 162mb)
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With each successive album, Bardo Pond continues to reshape and refine their monolithic sound, drawing ever closer to the oxymoronic ideal of controlled chaos that their brand of supreme noise seems to promise. Lapsed doesn't reach that holy grail, but it takes the group to a new level regardless, expanding into new dimensions of cacophony while sharpening the focus of their music to reflect an increasing emphasis on shape and form; the tension between the melodies of songs like "Pick My Brain," "Flux," and the epic closer "Aldrin" and the feverish blasts of noise which ultimately erupt from them is electrifying. The achievement of Lapsed is that for the first time, it's possible not merely to get lost in Bardo Pond's music, but to let it actually lead you somewhere as well -- certainly a trip well worth taking.
Bardo Pond - Lapsed (flac 342mb)
01 Tommy Gun Angel 5:15
02 Pick My Brain 6:43
03 Flux 9:07
04 Amandamide 2:23
05 Green Man 6:26
06 Straw Dog 3:23
07 Aldrin 14:19
Bardo Pond - Lapsed (ogg 108mb)
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