It's hard to imagine a record much more out of step with today's reigning popular culture than Bardo Pond's fifth album, Dilate—and that's a good thing.

It's hard to imagine a record much more out of step with today's reigning popular culture than Bardo Pond's fifth album, Dilate—and that's a good thing. This is very musical music, with the art of noise at the heart of this Philadelphia quintet's psychedelic aesthetic. As with Amanita, Lapsed, and Set & Setting—Bardo Pond's previous string of Matador stunners—Dilate revolves around vast, free-floating miasmata of guitar-spun dissonance, tethered by a deceptively dramatic rhythm method. Although a shade further up in the mix now, Isobel Sollenberger's occasional vocalise is just another texture amid the epic abstractions. The ringing overtones of such sensuous, slow-burn soundscapes as "Sunrise" work best cranked up to 11. But improvisatory and poetic, Bardo Pond has more in common with avant-jazz and contemporary classical than with most heavy rock. Dilate is the work of an organic, free-thinking guitar band, though, one that's even better live (and on a summer tour with Mogwai).—BB