Vapour Theories

Vapour Theories – New Music

Philly’s Bardo Pond’s brothers do their solo thing with Vapour Theories and a new album, “Celestial Scuzz.”

Only a Bardo Pond guitarist can call a band something as pretentious (and I mean that with love) as Vapour Theories, and get away with it. British ‘U’ in there and all. That it took two guitarists from Philly’s long-running avant-garde titans of noise and nuance – brothers, yet; John and Michael Gibbons – is better still. 

This week, the banging, clanging but balming brothers Gibbons head back into their long-running, Bardo side project. The aforementioned Vapour Theories, for the duo’s first new album in 15 years. “Celestial Scuzz” is due out at the top of 2021. Its spaced-out debut single “Breaking Down (The Portals Of Hell),” is what promises to be a regal, rangy welcome to the cold holiday season. 

Vapour Theories

As influenced by Germany’s Faust as they were by Germantown’s Sun Ra, Bardo Pond’s John and Michael Gibbons started making spidery drone-rock-meets-freak-folk in 1992 in Northern Liberties. With Bardo still intact (rounded out by Clint Takeda, Isobel Sollenberger, and Joe Culver), the airily psychedelic quintet released one hypnotic new album, “Under the Pines,” in 2017. And something harsher and less sedative, “8,” in 2018. 


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Like “Under the Pines”, “Celestial Scuzz”, and “Breaking Down (The Portals Of Hell),” stems from electro elastic bubble plastic-stretched jam sessions where songs are allowed to blossom organically… “Continuing on and on, researching cacophonic epiphanies,” Michael Gibbons once told me. 

Vapour Theories
Bardo Pond.

But, make no mistake, blossoming or not, Vapour Theories are no wilting lovely flowers and “Breaking Down (The Portals of Hell)” is as menacing as its title alludes. 

“When we play together there’s a kind of connection to vibrations for us,” wrote Michael as part of the new music’s press. Vapour Theories first product in six years after a split LP with Loren Connors. And 15 years after “Joint Chiefs”, the duo’s first album. 

“When it happens, we become vehicles for some unknown forces that work through us to create the music. A kind of spiritual. Most of the time it leaves us stunned. The more stunned we are the better the jam.” And of this shocked collab, Gibbons continued with, “The balance of power between us definitely shifts. When the record is put together it is equal parts from me and my brother. The collaboration is complete and represents both sides of our taking the lead on material.”

Vapour Theories

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