• René Cobar

Sonic Expression: A Barbarian Space Odyssey.

Phasing sounds, cascading falsettos, distant melodies, and shifting rhythms travel across the desert sands of Arrakis, graze the molten rivers of Mustafar, and shoot through the Great Barrier to swirl around the pillars of the front room inside Hotel Vegas in Austin TX. Her left hand on a Roland Juno-60 and her right one on a microKORG S synthesizer, Kristina Boswell serenades time and space and expresses herself—Barbarian plays a thirty-minute set on a Sunday evening on East Sixth Street.

A very personal touch is what Barbarian's set had indeed, each sustained chord and pulsing kick drum had a tell-tale quality to it that echoed with honesty. The music was uncompromising and had me listening carefully to each sound, had me feeling transported to distant galaxies observed in movies and dreams, had me seeing the sonic expression of a veteran artist exposed to just a few souls inside a popular dive bar, and that is what I love about live music.

Barbarian expression. Photo by Angel Cobar.

"Experimental pop," is how Kristina described her sound to me after her set and emphasized that Barbarian is a project that allows her to experiment with different sounds without compromising. Many musicians would agree that freedom of expression is everything. For over twenty years Kristina has been in the company of music—her manner of expression—and having moved to Austin in 2005 she is no stranger to the scene.

Currently, Kristina works as a waitress in town and puts hard work into Barbarian and her other major project Kay Odyssey each day. "I really just want to make a living," Kristina said about the future of her music, and she seems determined to make it work. Knowing the dedication necessary to be in one band, never mind two, is enough for me to believe her, and after speaking with her I am confident that she can get there—the drive is there.

Attention to detail. Photo by Angel Cobar.

"Tonight was exceptionally hard because my MIDI cable broke," Kristina sighed before a slight smile suggested business as usual. For over a decade she has pushed forward with her craft in ATX and like all great talents continues to learn each day, and that is what is so admirable about musicians like Kristina, their energy to push forward is immeasurable, and while some nights may not yield the desired results, the passion and urgency for music always remains.

"Music is always a good thing to go to, a great companion," Kristina said before we finished talking, and I could not agree with her more. Music remains an art that caters to individuality, and despite numerous records coming out in this day and age that follow a "formula" for success, people still experiment with and experience that which genuinely appeals to them. A sonic assertion that reaches the furthest corners of their being and that creates a galaxy of sounds bearing their name for all to listen to and observe—Barbarian is proof of that.

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