Pontiak – Sea Voids

January 01, 1970

(Thrill Jockey)




If and when the Carney brothers ever slow down to look back
and contemplate the road behind them, they’ll see their tenure kicked off with a
dizzying and largely impressive burst of creativity – but Sea Voids won’t be at the top of the list. Van, Jennings and Lain
Carney, three brothers from the Blue Ridge Mountains, convened Pontiak in 2005,
and since then have released three full-lengths, two EPs, and a split John Cale
tribute with like-minded label-mates Arbouretum; with their latest, they’ve
released about three albums of material in a little over a one-year span. Pontiak
wrote, recorded and mixed Sea Voids in eight evening sessions over the course of three weeks, and while the no
bullshit/few-takes approach has resulted in (heavy) rock-solid material before,
too many of these eight tracks feel like sketches rather than fully fleshed out


Pontiak’s strength is their ability to take simple ideas – usually
in the form of straightforward riffs – and inject enough nuances from a
grab-bag of influences like psychedelia, free form, and metal to transform them
from run-of-the-mill stoner rock into an appealing and usually unpredictable
hybrid. That still happens here, with the early-Sabbath sludge of “Suzerain”
morphing into balls-out Shellac riffage and cymbal-mashing madness, or the
lumbering riff of “Shot in the Arm” taking on an almost Friends of Dean
Martinez-like desert noir foreshadowing.  “The Spiritual Nurse” takes recent Earth into
double-time metronome land, and the choogling “World Wide Prince” also works,
the thumping bass and fuzzbox/delay acid-tripping into Ummagumma-era Floyd territory (Van sounds like a young David
Gilmour, too). But with a simple (though not simplistic) approach, it’s just as
easy to sound half-baked, and that’s what “Life and Coral,” “It’s the Life” and
the title track sound like. The latter is a messy, six-minute studio-noodle
where the guitar effects have carjacked the song, and the other two are
acoustic guitar tracks that read like demos. None of it’s off-putting, but the
Carneys have set the bar pretty high over the previous year. One slightly less
impressive release shouldn’t hurt their legacy and, besides, they’re already in
the studio again working on an early 2010 release.


Standout Tracks: “Shot
in the Arm,” “The Spiritual Nurse” JOHN SCHACHT



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