10 June 2005

Music Review: Bardo

Ladies and Gentlemen, TCS is pleased to present our very
first guest blogger! His name is M, and he'll be checking in
from time to time with music reviews and other interesting

Today, M. writes about an album you might have trouble
finding at WALMART.

* * *

So I got a hold of this old record -- an EP from the eighties.

It’s purple and white.

On the back is a picture of the band: two sax players,
two guitar players, a drummer, and a singer. Most of
them are dressed like mental patients -- like something
is seriously wrong with them. A couple of them are
dressed conservatively -- like they’re going to meet
their friends for tea and biscuits.

So I put the record on.

And it completely blows my mind.
I cannot overstate this: It is amazing.

It’s like listening to a great jazz record where
the players have such touch, such sensitivity…

And then some weird drunken dude comes bursting
into the studio, singing about the diarrhea he just
had after his Big Mac Attack.

But this jazz band (who play like legends -- you know,
the great ones) all happily join in, playing together
as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

The song “This Bi-Morphic Kiss of Ice” is worth the price
of admission alone. I mean it. This is a great album.

But who is this band?

It’s 1987, and the buzz in San Francisco is about a group
called Bardo. Combining the profound silliness of Parliament
with the experimental beauty of the Art Ensemble of Chicago
and Sun Ra, this band is playing all over the place.

And people are listening. Dirty punker drop-outs, washed-out
hippies, normal people like you and me -- even music reviewers!
(one said: ‘Bardo is one of the few bands I can stand to see.’)
And everybody sits on the floor and watches them in awe and
has an amazing time, feeling like five-year-olds again.

And the buzz gets bigger.

They’re playing live on KUSF and KALX.
They’re filling bigger and bigger venues.
And then…

Poof. Nothing. The band splits up.

Personal differences? Drug problems?

Who knows.

But if you can get a hold of this album (also called Bardo),
you will not be disappointed. It’s a lost gem.

The best way to find a copy is to email the drummer.
I think he still has some laying around.


Good luck!

- M.

[M. lives in San Francisco. He is one half of the band,
The Speakers. He also plays guitar in Jolie Holland's
band -- touring the world and wooing hearts with his
uncomfortable stage presence and looks of pain
and doubt.]

* * *

Thanks dude.

Send your questions and comments about M's reviews
(or anything else) here.