Philadelphia space rock institution Bardo Pond's particular breed of psychedelic guitar rock always relied on feelings of dread more than the blissed-out tones of their more lighthearted contemporaries. Throughout the late '90s when Flying Saucer Attack were offering hushed late-night shoegaze textures and the Kranky roster was dreaming up contemplative tapestries of ambient-leaning indie rock, Bardo Pond were dealing in bad trips, doomy imagery, and drug-damaged jam sessions. With Yntra, their contribution to the Southern Records spinoff label series Latitudes, Bardo Pond sound heavier than usual, with three long-form jams recorded at Southern studios when the band was passing through London. Album opener "The Crawl" does just that, stretching in an anguished creep from radio static to a full-force psychedelic drone, with vocalist Isobel Sollenberger's buried howls falling in between busy guitar gurgles. The sounds push forward into menace, and there's a sense that the bandmembers are dropping crumbs along the path so they can find their way back out of the darkness, but by the song's conclusion it's clear there's no way back. "Side to Side" finds the band channeling some serious Black Sabbath energy with the heaviest, most distorted piece of the set. Album closer "A Crossing" is mellower, and drags a honey-covered bassline into a 20-minute space rock vortex that sounds like a blurrier, warmer Hawkwind. Bardo Pond's long-running history has seen them gelling into a force to be reckoned with, and the fervor of their sound isn't something that a lot of young bands can aspire to immediately. With Yntra, they sound entirely at home in their craft, and more comfortable with the bummer vibes and crushing sounds than in their already spun-out early days.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas