Essential New Music: Bardo Pond’s “Volume 8”

Most bands have a discography you can chart on a timeline. Bardo Pond’s is more like a delta, with tributaries that split off from and feed the main stream. One such branch is the Volume series, a collection of CD-Rs that show the band at its loosest and most exploratory. Volume 8 is the first such release since 2009, and the first to be available from the beginning on less humble formats. It includes four instrumentals that feel wide open without sacrificing the band’s essential heaviness.

On “Kailash,” a hydra’s head of snaking guitars weave through massive drums; rare acoustic turn “Power Children” could score a shamanic cowboy flick. Ironically “And I Will,” the only tune that coheres into a song, is also the longest and wooziest thing on the record. Isobel Sollenberger’s echo-multiplied voice and Jason Kourkounis’ artfully stumbling drums erode the guitars’ solidity, spiking the record’s most massive moments with paradoxical vulnerability.

—Bill Meyer