Whereas Pontiak's 2014 album Innocence tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it's immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener "Easy Does It" that Dialectic of Ignorance is altogether a different beast. Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome, but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Bloody-knuckled basslines bring a snarling Desert Session groove to "Ignorance Makes Me High" and "Herb Is My Next Door Neighbor," whilst woozy Gilmour-esque vocal harmonies imbue "Hidden Prettiness" and "Youth and Age" with a psychoacoustic dose of cerebral inertia. Those who have seen the brothers perform live know of their ability to harmonize, but Dialectic of Ignorance is the first album in which this talent is showcased in every song. "We've Fucked This Up" is a pedal to the metal stoner-psych opus, while "Tomorrow Is Forgetting" burns hot and slow; potent from the first note whilst relentlessly cranking up the intensity.
Pontiak grew up and live on farms in rural Virginia. Dialectic of Ignorance's expansive structures echo the rugged, hazy climbs of this Blue Ridge Mountain setting, but don't be fooled; this is no mere collection of pastoral instrumental landscapes. An expanded awareness of process has emboldened Pontiak's musical explorations here while literary influence was also important, with particular inspiration drawn from Karl Ove Knausgård's sprawling confessional style, and the expressive, highly visual approach mastered by writers such as Bohumil Hrabal and Leo Tolstoy.
With post-truth politics implementing lasting change through manufactured narratives, the creative ownership Pontiak display on Dialectic of Ignorance is both elevating and empowering.