You may not be able to smell these New York musicians in person anymore, but as this double-CD set shows, their music continues to live and sweat. Spanning two full-length releases (1997's Strange Warmings of and 1998's In Real Time) and an EP (As If By Remote, also released in 1998), the collection reveals a group whose sprawling instrumental barrage could expand minds as well as blow them.
On Strange Warmings, the Lads took the aggressively cerebral rock moves hinted at by bands like This Heat and Faust and knocked them into the punk stratosphere. The first track, "Goat Lips," is a perfect example, starting off with a simple, repeating guitar/drum figure, moving into almost-funky territory, and then shifting into a hypnotic pummeling. This is the sound of what post-rock should've become.
In Real Time and As If By Remote together represented a huge stylistic leap for the band. For the most part, Laddio Bolocko jettisoned the instrumental violence of its previous effort in favor of a gentler, more overtly psychedelic pulsing. Utilizing analog synth, tenor sax, glistening guitar tones, and mesmerizing percussion, the foursome created lush, moody soundscapes. This is what post-rock actually became -- but even then the Lads sounded a whole lot better than, say, Chicago icons Tortoise.
In the small scheme of things, Laddio Bolocko was an important band. Before its ideas became genre clichés, the group carved out a musical territory where punk, jazz, and psychedelia met, with a fury that few of its peers -- or followers -- could match.