Panther – Entropy

January 01, 1970

(Kill Rock Stars)


In physics Entropy measures disintegration and
disorder, the continual process of things falling apart. That’s a fitting name
for Panther’s latest work, where pop forms are unceasingly put together, pulled
apart and reassembled. Here rhythms, melodies and harmonies rub together in a humming
friction of point, counterpoint and chaos.


Panther started out as Charlie Salas-Humara’s one-man
electro-pop band, a project he began after The Planet The folded in 2005. The
outfit became a duo when drummer Joe Kelly (from 31 Knots) joined for 14 Kt
. Entropy  is the third
Panther album, and the second with Kelly, full of complicated pop songs,
chopped into irregular bits and rearranged at random. With two players, Panther
can now take a more organic sound than on the earlier albums, using live drums,
guitar, bass and piano in addition to synths and samples. That combination — of
live and robot sounds, of melody and stuttery blitz, of old-school piano runs
and fractured post-punk beats – is the engine that drives these tunes,
sometimes right off the edge of the table.


All these songs are grounded thoroughly in four-four – held
down hard by the thump of drums, the banging of piano chords – yet they are so
full of irregular phrases and stop-starts as to seem free of time signature.  A jittery energy percolates through the whole
of Entropy, a sugar-rush sense of fun that is manic without being the least bit
anxious, multifaceted without being schizophrenic.  


What separates Entropy from the typical fritzed-out,
chop-and-dice pop album (see Kelly’s old outfit, 31 Knots, Menomena and others)
is, perhaps, the melodic quality of the vocals, the almost prog-like complexity
of these multi-part songs. “Love Is Sold,” the single, starts with a hard,
earnest beat, a splatter of piano chords, a spoke-sung cadence of words. Yet
very soon, it is taken up into a flurry of ornate vocal counterpoints, a
Yes-like complexity filtering into its bracing punk energy. “Oh Doctor”
alternates between spiky rhythms and soaring, slo-mo choruses, like a radio
switching between Fugazi and Sugar. There’s a heedless physical energy to these
songs, a surface-y fascination with the way things sound, rather than what they
mean. “Séance” plays with the way that two words – “Séance” and “Patience” –
have a similar sound.


Three remixes close the album, two of them emphasizing the
glitchy electro-pop from which Panther comes, a middle one of “Love Is Sold”
(credited to Lips and Ribs) adding even more organic sounds to the mix. Here
jungle-y top beats and squealing organ trills push Panther’s slice-and-dice pop
into pure jam. But in a way, the remixes are just another iteration of
Salas-Humara’s process, which disassembles songs into chaotic bits, then rolls  them around in a box and stops when they an
intriguing pattern.


Consumer note: Entropy is available from Kill Rock Stars as a limited edition (500 copies) LP that
includes a download of the album plus eight digital bonus tracks.


Standout tracks: “Love Is Sold,” “Birds that Move,”




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