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Pontiak finesse their heady stoner-rock grooves and hypnotic vocal harmonies on Dialectic of Ignorance

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Virginia trio Pontiak—brothers Jennings, Van, and Lain Carney—have spent years developing and refining a particular strain of groove-based hard rock, their indelible, fuzzed-out guitar riffs cycling hypnotically to summon a levitating power. Yet unlike so many bands purveying a similar stoner-rock sound—viscous, flanged guitar solos uncoiling luxuriantly but rudely over rhythms worthy of gentle headbanging—this trio construct their work around the voice. On their new album Dialectic of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey) the Carneys reveal a heightened ability to sing chantlike melodies with measured, beguiling grace. The effect resembles a lean, churning machine that simultaneously purrs and grinds—like Pink Floyd minus the philosophical gobbledygook and extraneous atmospherics. Subtle keyboard layers on certain tracks lubricate the trio’s roiling gears, and at times the drumming of Lain Carney sounds robotic, thanks to a production that transforms his kit into something akin to a 90s drum machine. Pontiak’s seriously mesmerizing sound achieves a blend of heaviness and ethereality.   v

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