Pontiak – Echo Ohno

January 01, 1970

(Thrill
Jockey)

 

www.thrilljockey.com

 

The
first three songs on Echo Ono could
virtually be one eight-minute opus in a few movements. Recorded without the use
of any distortion pedals, according to the liners, things nevertheless roar to
a start in “Lions of Least,” built on a “TV Eye”-style guitar line that moves
in and out over a steady 4/4 pound. Blink and it’s easy to miss the quick stop
before “The North Coast” expands on the monochord action, with dynamics and
more of a verse-chorus structure. When bassist Jennings Carney cues the 6/8
shift to “Left with Lights,” it ratchets the energy up even further. Clearly,
the Carney brothers (which include Van on guitar and vocals, and Lain on drums)
knew what they were doing when they sequenced these three tracks because the
final effect sounds less like songs in the same key and more like one complete
epic.

 

Pontiak
created Echo Ono by themselves at
their farm/studio in Virginia.
They used overdubs in a few spots (droning organs to add ambience, acoustic
guitars) but the overall sound feels live, where Van’s ear-splitting power
chords might drop out briefly during a verse, only to return right when it’s
time to drive things home. “Silver Shadow” and “Stay Out, What a Sight” proves
the band can mellow out a bit, without losing any direction. Van’s calm vocals
have as much presence whether he’s competing with his axe or carrying the show.
Only on “Panoptica” does the band
decide to wail away without any sense of direction. At six minutes, it’s twice
as long as almost every other track, but considering closes the album, they’ve
built up a reserve of energy that carries through to the end.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Left with Lights,”
“Silver Shadow.” MIKE
SHANLEY

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