Critic's Choice

Philadelphia's Bardo Pond, Wednesday, November 17, at the 15th St. Tavern, creates a big noise, wall-of-sound schizophrenia that you can withstand without nurturing a bottle of Thorazine. Unlike most of its peers in the genre, the self-taught ensemble does not get lost in its improvisations. On Set and Setting, its latest release, the undulating polyrhythms of drummer Joe Culver and bassist Clint Takeda set an ebb-and-flow foundation for the cross-current guitars of brothers John and Michael Gibbons. Coupled with Isobel Sollenberger's hauntingly seductive lyrics, Set and Setting brings to mind Sonic Youth's classic Sister and many of Glenn Branca's inventions. The band's offerings are often anxious and pounding; other times they linger as a residue of sounds. Ultimately, Bardo Pond creates an exhausting cacophony that, if you are willing to embrace it, can be exhilarating in thought and expression. -- Mike Engstrom


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