It looks like the Godmother of punk is at it again. Banga, her newest record, is awash in imagistic lyrics and that interesting sense of jazz-inspired artistic open-endedness that has marked her work right from the release of Horses, the beginning of her recorded output. The music produced will definitely appeal to a particular audience, of which I am not a member. But, for those that dig this type of Impressionistic story telling and the artsy yearnings, there is something to be found.
It’s not that it’s a bad record. There are things about this album that I appreciate, but the whole is not greater than the sum of its’ parts, at least not for me. Coupled with that is the subdued and introspective nature of some of the tracks; the slow tempos combine with the impressionistic nature of the lyrics to produce an effect of melancholy brooding. Engaging and thought provoking, but not necessarily enjoyable in purely musical terms.
The title track is the highlight of the record. This one has a little bit of snarl to it, and Patti brings tons of attitude and presence right from the beginning. Unlike a good portion of the rest of the album, this track has a fair amount of energy, and actually rocks out. The fact that it’s basically two parts spun out for almost three minutes imparts a higher degree of urgency.
Constantine’s Dream, track 10, you might find to be either compelling or not, depending on your disposition. The religious imagery and brief dialogue in another language renders the aesthetic a little too heavey and bludgeoning. On top of that, it’s over ten minutes long.
In between these two extremes sits the rest of the album. To her credit, Patti Smith is not afraid of experimenting with different genres. That one thing helps things along to a considerable degree.
If you’re looking for hazy, impressionistic musings on religion and existence set to music that is at times a little too atmospheric but still played with competence and a solid rhythm section, this may be for you. Everyone else might not have the patience.
Tags: Patti Smith - Banga album review, paul paradis, Reviews