Peri comes wreathed in love and retrenchment. It’s a gorgeous document, marvelously packaged in a gatefold sleeve whose depiction of a UFO and an angel brings together two themes dear to Bardo Pond’s collective heart. Inside you’ll find both the LP (pressed on 180 gram vinyl, of course) and CD, which contain five songs recorded but not released during the quintet’s tenure with Matador records, which came to an end in 2001. Which raises the question; is this just a lavishly boxed set of previously passed over leftovers?
Not really. One of these songs, “Chicken Gun,” is something of a legend amongst long-time fans. It was a live staple in the late ’90s, back when Bardo Pond cemented their til-death-do-we-part pact with the riff, and the version here is as mean and heavy as anything on Lapsed. And it has a companion in “Karwan,” a heavy-booted stumble that isn’t far behind in the bulky sound sweepstakes. The guitars grind along at a pace more geological than musical.
That said, there’s a fair bit of variety to the set. With its flickering snippets of backward tape and forward flute, “The Path” charts a direction that the band might profitably explore further. And the slow build on “Silver Pavilion” from spacious throb to sustained blast showcases Bardo Pond’s lockstep command. Only “Libation,” which fails to capitalize on the tension between Isobel Sollenberger’s woozily braided vocals and Michael and John Gibbons’ freaked-out guitars, feels less than top drawer.
But still… this music is at least eight years old, and most of it tells you things you already know about Bardo Pond. It’s been three years since they raised the bar with Ticket Crystals, a record that willingly messed with the band’s established sound and was better for it. As fun as it is to hear them do what they’re good at doing, it’d be more exciting to hear them test themselves once more.