Pontiak - Dialectic Of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey)

US neo-psych brethren return with formidable new set

Released Mar 24th, 2017 via Thrill Jockey / By Allan Judkins
Pontiak - Dialectic Of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey) Think heavy, think slow-cooked, think Pontiak. Although, don’t limit this album to one tacky slogan posing as a desperate way to start an album review of a band this author should have totally listened to before tasking himself with having to write about their eleventh album to date. Sorry, hardcore Pontiak fans, this one here’s a total rookie. Okay - disclaimer out of the way. Let’s delve in.

Great care has been taken in the gradual development of each track. The eight-minute opener by the name of Easy Does It doesn’t even need the bass guitar until two minutes in. We’re already soaked in syrupy vocal harmonies and thick, hypnotic organ chords, it’s hard to take note of what’s going on as such a wholesome aural experience is manifesting itself.

If there’s one thing Pontiak absolutely love – it’s their ride bell cymbal. A prominent feature of the rhythm section throughout, and while sounding bright and clean, it also signifies death and gloom with its tolling repetition. The track Hidden Prettiness shows just one example of said importance, along with hard-hitting tom fills and belly rubbing distorted bass. Another repeated trait is a few tedious song titles - the single ‘Ignorance Makes Me High’ and Herb Is My Nextdoor Neighbour seem like they draw the association a little bit too close.

For those not yet initiated into the musical world of the three Carney brothers, a dedicated listen does help bring more love to the record. Also seeing them live might help. And… probably having a beard. It can be a tough record to keep hold of for some. It’s easy to enjoy the floaty psychedelia in the first tracks before getting caught up in distractions, then before you know it the next artist suddenly comes up on the old iTunes list (probably Portishead or more alarmingly, Pop Will Eat Istelf).

Dialectic of Ignorance is only eight tracks long with admittedly little to distinguish between those numbers. These repeated components, if not previously clocked, include slow thudding rhythms, riffs within pentatonic minor scales, long and minimal organ chords and sniveling guitar frenzies (take note of the ending track We’ve Fucked This Up for a big slice of the latter). However, having similar antics throughout the record is no bad thing by any shout. For someone fully entranced in a smoky psyched-out haze, an abrupt change of tempo and feel would probably be a bit scary. All the aforementioned components are worth boasting indeed, it does all sound excellent. Literally every one of the drum kick-ins has the capacity to blow one’s mind. As well, listen to ‘Tomorrow Is Forgetting’ and once again, the opening track for the three-part harmonies that really help push them a league above in the trippy stoner realm. This slower but surer record scores a high.