Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise

January 01, 1970

(Rough Trade)



is a fascinating techno record, styled with
rich drum programming and deep, dour melodies. Three years back, Hendrik
Weber’s sophomore outing as Pantha Du Prince garnered widespread critical
acclaim in many circles for its wealth of gorgeous mood shifts and hypnotic
atmospherics. In its precise sound detail and chilly sonic terrain, Black Noise follows the well-loved This Bliss with emotionally bountiful
chord changes and a familiar emphasis on bell tones.



Given Animal Collective’s recent steamrolling
popularity, Hendrik Weber comes off like an oily-slick businessman on
“Stick To My Side”, the single Black
cut that features guest Noah Lennox on vocals. Weber has long known
of Panda Bear and Animal Collective, though; there’s a much-discussed Pantha Du
Prince “Peacebone” remix as well as an AC tour support slot under his
belt. If Weber’s guest on “Stick” weren’t battling a watery batch of
reverb and rustling ambience that help mesh it with the course of this
otherwise wordless album, Lennox would come close to breaking the spell here,
as his walk-on marks the cheeriest moment by a mile.



The path to wintry stark settings over Black Noise’s eleven pieces is cleared
with scattered bells and manipulated field noises imported from the Alps. The former are everywhere; “Abglanz” is
abundantly glassy, and “Bohemian Forest”
opens (several times) to reveal a micro-symphony of clinks, just so that
Hendrik Weber can pull out from it and employ the same compelling strategy
again toward the end. Pigeonholing This
as a straight, linear dance album is an unforgivable injustice, and
Weber’s direction on Black Noise isn’t entirely club-ready, either. Sure, the gritty low-end that powers
pre-album single “Behind the Stars” is best suited to a DJ set, but
it’s one of the lesser chameleonic cuts on the album, boasting a monochrome,
floor-centric functionality that sticks out like a sore thumb.



Toward Black
close, the coupling of lilting organic elements and wonderful
ringing render “Welt Am Draht” more wholly representative of the
album than “Behind the Stars”. “Welt” references Black’s ultimately sad but ever-evolving
melodic thread, and the aesthetics remain consistent — bells are front and
center against soft synth washes, a steady peppering of percussion, and
mournful choral accompaniment from the far back corner. Not unlike This Bliss, Lawrence’s after-hours techno, or
Trentemøller’s The Last Resort,
Weber’s strongest compositions might come off too delicate for some, but
they’re actually rife with color and never short on memorable flourishes.



“Lay In A Shimmer,” “Satellite


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