I have often wondered what exactly the true roots were for Bardo Pond. For a band with such a unique sound, where did it all come from? In a recent discussion with Michael Gibbons he was quick to tell me that their earliest true influences were Sabbath, free jazz and no wave. Using these sounds as the initial seeds, the band coalesced and poked their heads out into the world and discovered the rest of what would guide them as a unit. Their early palette quickly added shades from early Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Charalambides, Spacemen 3, the entire Siltbreeze catalog, Sonic Youth, Skullflower and the Sun City Girls. The combination made from such diverse influences is what the band had in their collective head between June and December of 1993 when they recorded No Hashish, No Change Money, No Saki Saki and released it as a cassette, partially in an effort to secure more gigs. This is a snapshot of Bardo Pond in its earliest form – then a quartet consisting of Isobel Sollenberger (flute, vocals), Joe Culver (drums) and Michael and John Gibbons on guitars – crawling onto land and developing its own legs.
I like to fantasize about the room where they all played this material live. In my mind I envision pot smoke wafting throughout, possibly old area rugs on the floor. There should to be a collection of telling and ragged posters/art on the walls, maybe a living room situation, a couch and old chair. I can see curtains hanging over the windows letting in small amounts of sunlight, a lone floor lamp. Using this environment as a source, I see the quartet taking their time winding in and out of a morass of sound where a melody emerges from the dissonance converging around it, simultaneously swallowing it up and spewing it forward, Isobel’s voice being the center of this gravitational pull, the swirl that brings you in. From there one of the guitars takes off echoing the vocals while the other guitar is shimmering around from all sides, sliding and slurping with the rhythm and cymbals splashing with no hurry. This is the sound of freedom, the sound of Bardo Pond. This album contains the DNA of all their future music, from the low dirge to the sexy laid-back choking of beautiful vocals lost and found amongst wavering vibrations of rising and falling drone. Sometimes Isobel’s vocals are a guide, a way through, as in the song “Rupture”, a thing that peaks out occasionally above the dense cloud of uncertainty and psychedelic wah noise. They are there to remind you that don’t know where we’re going but that feels good. No Hashish… emanates the chaotic splendor of when a band first starts out and aren’t sure what they’re doing, that magical and best kind of energy which simply cannot be repeated. They went on with their following records to refine a special and unique form of mind expansion/explosion based on equal parts of beautiful chaos and repressed noise and you can see all of that start right here. This album is for me like all of Bardo Pond’s catalog, a cleanse of the mind and soul, a soundtrack for today’s “great resignation” and the ultimate way to turn on and on and on… - Three Lobed Records