BBC: "Banga takes its name from Mikhail Bulgakov – Banga was the name the Russian novelist gave to Pontius Pilate's dog in The Master and Margarita – and its inspirations from a forever-quaking planet Earth. There is a beautiful girl-group ballad tribute to Amy Winehouse (This Is the Girl), and a glowering slice of country-ish rock apparently written as a birthday gift to Johnny Depp (Nine). Elsewhere, we find a gorgeous ode to the Italian explorer who lent his name to America (Amerigo), beside songs inspired by Japanese earthquakes (Fuji-San) and a classic sci-fi movie (Tarkovsky (The Second Stop Is Jupiter))."
"One of the few figures with a firm handle on the shaman-poet imperative has been Patti Smith. Banga is the 65-year-old's 11th album, one of the most satisfying of her latterday career. A performance poet before she ever got a band together, Smith's electrified presence and aggressive, incantatory style – part Dylan, part Jersey girl – have always aspired to a frequency that you might call sacred, if that word hadn't been sullied by the so-called new age. "Oh crown of wind, two royal leopards run with him," she murmurs on Seneca as circuitous guitar tones set out a mantric path. Out of context it might read like sophomoric poeticism, but like every song Smith sings it comes to the ear like a spell."
Pitchfork: "Somehow, over the course of the four years it took her to write and record the material on her latest album, Banga, poet-singer-photographer-mother-activist-shaman-clarinetist Patti Smith managed to do some things she hadn't done yet. She acted in a Jean-Luc Godard film, appearing in his 2010 videotape polemic Film Socialisme and, in a highbrow/lowbrow swivel, then later made her television acting debut in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She wrote her first memoir, Just Kids, a chronicle of her ardent friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, which earned a National Book Award and critical acclaim. And-- a proud autodidact all her life-- Smith even belatedly racked up a few college degrees, so to speak, receiving honorary doctorates from Rowan University (she dropped out in 1967) and the Pratt Institute. All in all, a pretty average couple of years in the life of Patti Smith, who's spent decade after decade ticking a red pencil against her chin, circling uncharted waters like want ads, and setting sail."
Slant Magazine: "Listening to a Patti Smith album always feels like an invitation to glimpse her roster of influences. From Horses onward, Smith has paid dues to Hendrix, Sinatra, Baudelaire, Pasolini, Van Morrison, Chris Kenner, Elvis, and, most of all, Arthur Rimbaud, the patron saint of her '70s output. Remarking on that rare quality in an artist to steal-and-tell, critic Luc Sante described Smith as "president of a fan club that had just one member but a hundred idols."
Banga works best when Smith weaves those themes into quieter, more introspective numbers. On "Seneca," a spare and haunting lullaby whispered to a godson, Smith sounds positively mournful. And on "This Is the Girl," a touching elegy for the late Winehouse, Smith croons about a young woman "spirited away/Buried inside.""
Track listing Amerigo
This Is the Girl
Tarkovsky (The Second Stop is Jupiter)
After the Gold Rush