Album Reviews

Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 8 February 2010

This album heralds a new and unexpected direction for Rough Trade, who have signed an artist that would seem to be more suitable for Kompakt. Good on them for doing so – and particularly good on Hendrik Weber for writing such an accomplished album.

His name sounds like that of a classical composer – and there is something of a parallel to be drawn there, as these tracks are beautifully sculpted and impeccably structured. However that’s not to say they proceed with the cold and calculated precision that can sometimes push techno into the grey area of the spectrum. No, these are tracks that live and breathe, and above all make you want to dance.

The reason for that is Weber’s desire to incorporate nature into his work. He does this through field recordings of Alpine bells and the addition of steel pans and soft marimbas, creating as he does so a memorial to the victims of a landslide in a Swiss village, shown in beautiful technicolour on the cover.

Often these percussion instruments are added so subtly you might not even notice on first listen, but they give the music its vital rhythmic element, making the listener feel as if they have strayed into a small village in the midst of a rite of passage.

There is another curveball to contend with, in the shape of a guest slot from Animal Collective‘s Panda Bear, who turns up in the softly euphoric Stick To My Side. It stands out as a moment of genius, carrying more impact as the only vocal track on the album. He’s not the only guest though – bassist Tyler Pope lends his fulsome tones to The Splendour.

Bass is where it’s at elsewhere in these intricate constructions. The opening Lay In A Shimmer casts its spell with glittering percussion and sparkling treble timbres, but once the bass line kicks in with its toll it’s easy to imagine the sort of dancefloor mayhem that could ensue. Satellite Snyper hits the groove running, a more upfront riff drawing a little from early house – but not deviating from the overall mood.

This is a special album, make no doubt about it, casting its spell as it makes both a moving memorial and an example of raw talent. If techno with a soul is what you’re after, then look no further than this.

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More on Pantha Du Prince
Pantha Du Prince @ Barbican, London
Pantha Du Prince – The Triad
Pantha Du Prince + The Bell Laboratory @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory – Elements Of Light
Pantha Du Prince – XI Versions Of Black Noise