Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
Rough Trade (2010)
I’m hopping on the hype bandwagon here, but you know, I love Animal Collective and the fourth track on this record features the vocals of Panda Bear (Noah Lennox). So I dived in.
If you’ve been living under a rock Pantha Du Prince, AKA German-born Hendrick Weber has garnered attention for bringing Indie adventurousness to bustling House and Techno rhythms. Weber has played in a host of Euro Indie rock bands, he DJs and recently made a name for himself as an electronic producer. Apparently his music displays a love for the British Shogaze scene, however I can’t hear that on this, the first of his records I’ve heard.
The title Black Noise is a reference to sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, such as animals ‘hearing’ or sensing an earthquake before it takes place. The bulk of this record has been constructed from field recordings and jam sessions that took place somewhere in the Swiss Alps, apparently at the site of a mud slide which wiped out an entire village.
Such references suggest that Black Noise would be dense and melancholic, but instead each track opens with a collage of on site field recordings that slowly arrange themselves into mid-paced Techno and House tracks that blossom with steel drums, chimes and other ringing sounds. Stick to my Side featuring Panda Bear is definitely the album’s low point, where the human voice sounds like an afterthought within Weber’s deft production skills and cinematic scope.
The instrumentals are far superior, such as Abglanz which builds at a snail’s pace towards a cascade of discordant steel drums, or Welt Am Draht where snaky rhythms propel droning synths and guitar harmonics, and only headphones can do justice to the suave minimalism of The Splendour.
Black Noise calls to mind Warp Records releases by Aphex twin, Autechre and Boards of Canada during the 1990’s where ‘Dance Music’ is too basic an adjective to describe the warmth and emotion emanating from such electronic music. However, Pantha Du Prince is no where near as experimental or playful as the above mentioned artists, and all of this talk about inaudible sounds and making music from field recordings ultimately doesn’t sound as unique as it could do. Black Noise is beautifully crafted ambience and that’s solely how it should be enjoyed.