Ticket Crystals

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Bardo Pond has rarely deviated from its brand of heady, inky psychedelia and space rock across 15 years and more than a half-dozen full-lengths (some named after lickable toads and psychoactive mushrooms), and they don’t with Ticket Crystals either. This is bewildering stuff, but beautiful too; as grotesque as it is exquisite. Opener "Destroying Angel" spools out to nearly 10 minutes, its folky acoustic strum quickly swallowed by formidable dirge-metal guitars and rumbling rhythms. Vocalist Isobel Sollenberger is atypically assertive at the outset, but she eventually surrenders too, submitting her trademark murmurs, caterwauls and intoxicating flute melodies to the song’s volcanic ooze. If H.R. Giger’s sculptures spoke, they’d sound like Bardo Pond. But, hey, who doesn’t love a Beatles cover at the same time? Bardo tries its hand at "Cry Baby Cry" midway through Crystals, and it’s one of the most conventionally pop moments in their long history. Of course, a brutish psych-guitar soon rips through the jangle. On second thought, who needs another conventional Beatles cover. Elsewhere Bardo is at its primal best, as on the 18-minute instrumental drone-jam "FC II," and the closing "Montana Sacra II," a viscous, almost unnerving grind that’ll have you wondering if this band ever sees the sunlight.

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