Pontiak Maker

[Thrill Jockey; 2009]

Styles: stoner rock, drone folk
Others: Dead Meadow, OM

Despite being recorded in the confines of a 12x12’ home studio by three brothers, Pontiak's Maker avoids sounding overly jammy or excessive. And this is no small feat, particularly in the absence of a supervising producer. Even on the title track, the album's 14-minute centerpiece, the siblings tastefully monitor both how long they allow each idea to gestate until it is realized and when to progress to a fresh one before driving old ideas into the ground through unrelenting repetition.

The first half of Maker consists of three straightforward stoner-rock numbers, each succeeded by a short instrumental interlude. These passages run the risk of disrupting the album’s flow, but instead allow the members to indulge in some brief jamming and experimentation outside of the confines of their otherwise pretty-traditional, dirty rock ‘n’ roll. “Heat Pleasure” in particular stands out, with its clattering cymbals and waves of droning feedback that bring to mind the suffocating heat of the mid-July South.

Although Pontiak’s music carries a rural, rustic vibe, Maker’s stylistic range is impressively broad, blending disparate elements into a rather cohesive whole. “Aestival” recalls late-period Earth (at their fastest), with its ringing chords, consistent ride cymbal ping, and narcotic haze. “Seminal Shining” finds the band in traditional folk mode, with brushed drums, an acoustic guitar, and Van Carney’s portentous baritone. The thunderous plod of “Honey” threatens to drag Maker to a halt, but as with the rest of the album, the track doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Indeed, Pontiak display a great amount of restraint and maturity on Maker, but they’re most successful and exciting when combining their more avant-garde tendencies with their love of classic southern rock, as heard in the multiple segments of album standout “Wax Worship.” Pontiak aren’t really clearing a new path with Maker, but they’re refining their sound while showing great aptitude for what they do.

1. Laywayed
2. Bloodpride
3. Wax Worship
4. Headless Conference
5. Wild Knife Night Flight
6. Heat Pleasure
7. Aestival
8. Maker
9. Seminal Shining
10. Honey
11. Aasstteerr

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