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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Barbara Panther - Barbara Panther

“Listen to the beat of the mother land. Take your head out of the sand” opens Rwandan born Barbara Panther’s new album, encouraging her growing cult of listeners of “brothers” to ‘Rise Up’. What goes on in the background sounds like an irritating concoction of robots letting out wind– hopefully not something she hopes to be representative of her roots, if that’s even possible… Despite that, the catchy chorus somehow reinvents the song completely (probably due to the robots dissapearing) and the rattling of chains being thrown at a radiator slashes through any initial doubtful thoughts.

A dangerously close parallel to Björk follows through with ’Moonlight People’, a track much talked about by various online critics. The only real difference between the artists is the catchy pop hook that’s (just about) distinguishable, from amid whistles and European accents. Nonetheless, such a comparison is most certainly meant as a compliment and when simply focussing on her mixing pot of genres and sounds (ripped off from Crystal Fighters), Panther leaves you purring with joy.

Behind the intensity of her songs, lurks a subtle humour through the means of experimental effects and in turn gives her this unexplainable ‘freshness’ – which the music industry laps up in an instant. This success was partly due to her collaboration with electronic producer, Matt Herbert, who originally was asked to mix the album by her record label, City Slang. The moulding of minds between these two genius musical prodigies (or perhaps just Matt’s) resulted in a ridiculous yet wonderful mix of music, which Panther calls “modern electronic baroque music”.

‘Voodoo’ and ‘Empire’ are amongst the best tracks from the album, boasting mechanical aggression that intoxicates you with a diversity of sounds from the whole width of the experimental spectrum. ‘Voodoo’’s sound has a tribal quality to it, with strong, meaningful lyrics: “Every night I pray like a bitch / That one day the poor will eat the rich / And I don’t care if that makes me a wa-wa-wa-wa-witch.” A resounding bass makes the words preached all that more alluring, saucepan-like drums advancing this inspiring revolution as one’s heart begins pumping with adrenalin at the thought. Empire sees haunting lyrics sectioned over DnB: “What would Jesus do? He’d do exactly the same! Your empire is falling”. The layering of drum and bass with robotic prods and sharp synths really isn’t something that should work together, but the fascinating thing about it, is it does (god knows how).

As the album comes to a close, moods and sounds once again get stirred up with ‘Dizzy’. “Each move turns me on” accompanies gasps not far off something you’d hear in soft porn and switches the previously created ominous atmosphere. This more ambient and uplifting track keeps you clung to your earphones in anticipation of what’s to follow. The penultimate track finishes this journey as the listener ‘Ride[s] To The Source” and another entirely magical dimension where once and for all we can relax after this too-exciting/experimental-for-you-own-good album. This paradoxical package of despair and excitement, good and evil, concern and freeness is inspiring, but something advisable to be taken in small doses. All I know, is that tonight I’m going to be dreaming some very strange dreams…

(written for

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