Barbara Panther - Barbara Panther - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Barbara Panther - Barbara Panther

by Deany Sevigny Rating:8.5 Release Date:2011-05-23

Entering into the task of reviewing Barbara Panther's debut knowing absolutely nothing about her, I did a bit of homework and found out that she's a Rwandan refugee, a former drama student, and now a resident in Berlin. So, with such an interesting background, and a residency in a city which prides itself on rich artistic diversity (Peaches lives there, for the love of God!), I was naturally quite eager to hear what Miss Panther had to sing about. Her self-titled album felt like it'd been on my iPod for years. It melds beautifully - nay, perfectly - in with the variety of innovative female artists I've come to revere over the years, from Kate Bush, Björk, and Grace Jones, to Roisin Murphy, Goldfrapp, and Iamamiwhoami (or Jonna Lee, if you haven't been following your virals).

The ship's foghorn that opens 'Rise Up' lets us know we're in for quite a journey. This is a pleasure cruise and a safari into the dark heart of a jungle in one. She touches on religion in first single 'Empire', which would probably be known as When Bjork Met Daft Punk in an alternative universe; ethnicity and identity in the opener; and existence and the human condition in 'O'Captain' (with a fair amount of dismay and bewilderment on the latter). It's refreshing to hear pop music with dares to question and shake a proverbial fist again!

In contrast, Barbara soothes the pace a little with the mellow, ethereal pop of 'Moonlight People', on which she philosophises that "[she] must be dreaming a dream in which we dream each other away", a possible comment on the selfish ideals of the individual. 'A Last Dance' is hopeful, self-empowering, and beautifully danceable. The album's closing track, 'Ride to the Source', sounds like a synth-laden rain-dance.

This is the most experimental material I've heard from an alternative female artist since Bjork's 1997 album Homogenic, and, given that the first lady of kooky, experimental electro-pop has taken a sabbatical over the past few years, this is just what the doctor ordered. I think this could be the start of something rather lovely indeed.

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