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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Pantha Du Prince – Elements of Light

I really enjoyed Pantha Du Prince’s 2010 album Black Noise. If you cast your mind back you’ll remember a techno soundscape based on a limited sonic palette of cowbells, glockenspiels and copious other pieces of tuned percussion. It was like dancing to techno high in the Swiss mountains with a heard of jovial cows dinging their bells while a buxom milk maid, resplendent with yoke, simultaneously clangs out a tune on a xylophone and jostles her two buckets of sleigh bells and chime bars. It’s either a disturbing or extremely pleasurable experience depending on your personal disposition, but I know which side I’m voting for. Throw some creamy full fat milk into the equation as well and I’d be delirious.

Anyway back to 2013’s Elements of Light. I was anticipating a diversification in the somewhat limited sound palette, but how wrong can you be? Pantha’s head honcho, Hendrik Weber, instead opted to move to an even more restricted range of instrumentation. In short…lots and lots of bells! Hendrik enlisted the guys from the infamous Bell Laboratory and made an album that should really have been called ‘Elements of Bells.’ However don’t be disheartened, the resultant album is a lush, gorgeous and satisfying mix of chilled techno and harmoniously chiming and peeling bells.

The LP centres around two epic, and needless to say, overly long tracks; ‘Photon’ and ‘Spectral Split’. Both are moving, emotional pieces of music that evoke feelings of stark loneliness, the joy of Christmas celebrations and an almost spiritual journey of enlightenment. There are moments where the bells peel and merge that literally made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Who knew that bells could be this much fun or make such a beautiful sound?

Certainly not bell ringers! Why don’t village church bell ringers play ‘Spectral Split’ instead of the usual monotonous numbers they churn out? Alternatively let the Bell Laboratory people loose in a cathedral and you’d have a capacity crowd.

In so many ways an amazing and awe inspiring album that everyone should experience. The picture in the CD case of the studio set-up effectively sums up the quality of the sounds and attention to detail of the project, with a variety of real instruments, synthesizers and a rack of thirty feet high pipe bells! With some high quality speakers and decent audio equipment this is as good as 21st Century techno gets.   

1 comment:

  1. The one I've heard is overlong but it has some brilliant moments within it. I bet when they made this album the bell ringers stipulated in their contracts that they needed an endless supply of tea and custard creams whilst recording. And a musty smelling community room at the back of a church to enjoy their refreshments.