Pontiak Comecrudos [EP]

[Thrill Jockey; 2011]

Styles: instrumental post-rock, psychedelic drone-folk, stoner rock
Others: Dead Meadow, OM, Black Mountain, Arbouretum

Few bands are able to move between moods and styles as flawlessly as Pontiak. Comecrudos, their latest Thrill Jockey release, showcases this elusive transitional ability. Recorded as a soundtrack to the drive from Phoenix through much of Texas without the aid of distortion or overdrive pedals, the four-part EP glides along from vast, minimal plains to loping dirges and poignant rock as effortlessly as the sea of sand and indomitable flora and fauna to which it was set.

“Part I” opens the EP on a richly textured seven-minute drone. Within this drone, a strummed guitar moans on with an endless decay, writhing as its amplitude interweaves with trumpets and reverberant sounds. It isn’t until a minute into “Part II” when the mood is broken, where a similar drone gives way to acoustic guitar, warm 70s bass, and vocals as if the van crests an incline on Route 385 to reveal a striking contrast of color and atmosphere on the horizon.

“Part III” keeps with the Boris-meets-Pink Floyd vibe laid down by the previous two tracks. The section’s first three minutes establish a funky bassline and boom-bap drum beat, over which an improvised guitar is eventually usurped and then joined by a surging brass section. This grind is re-contextualized in its final four minutes with the appearance of oddly uplifting vocals, musing on lonely ghosts and their former happiness.

Like the movements before them, “Part III” drifts into “Part IV” like a feather floating down onto a gentle stream. “Part IV” is marked by a heavy organ, lagging drums, and shimmering, delayed guitar that later peaks the section with a bout of epic soloing, after which the bottom drops out and the organ wails alone for a few bars.

The most jarring moment of the whole EP is the final second, as the organ stops on a dime and the aural film effectively cuts to black. Yet, due to the band’s immaculate pacing and tenacious creation of diverse, lavishly constructed atmospheres, this ‘cut to black’ only serves to leave the listener not merely wanting, but praying for more. Comecrudos is far more immersive than any EP has a right to be.

Links: Pontiak - Thrill Jockey

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