The power trio is about as unassuming as bands come these days; guitar, bass and drums at the core, the power comes from the sound that is shaken out of such a stripped down configuration. Cream and Jimi Hendrix championed the concept; 40 years later, with only slight tinkering, Pontiak is wringing all the power it can from the humble stage plot, the oozing, electrified sludge spilling heavy to form the trio’s third release, Maker.
The follow up to 2008’s Sun on Sun, Maker mines a similar vibe, exploring the deeper depths of overdriven psych-rock , cloaked in shrouds of overdriven guitar and plodding rhythm. Where Pontiak’s strengths lie are in the organic ambiance of its throttled compositions, the warm fuzz of Van Carney’s distorted guitar melting over the unobtrusive, pulsing rhythm of his brothers – Jennings’ on bass and Lain on drums – like Scotch whiskey over freshly cracked ice. The sheer power – and depth – is most fully exposed on Maker’s centerpiece, the 13-plus minute title track, a barreling, full-frontal attack from a group of guys who’ve not yet realized their power. Shifting tempos throughout, the multi-segmented maelstrom is impressive, yet gratuitous at times, the engine revving but the gas delivering little forward motion.
Pontiak is but one of a long line of power trios who’ve emerged over the last 40 years, many of which have staked their claim with wild, unkempt bravado that is barley reeled back into cohesive grooves. Maker shows a band that knows how to build a composition and grow into it, a seismic rumble that constantly surges, but revels more in the tension than the release.
Maker is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.