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Pantha du Prince - The Splendour
Feb 16, 2010
Total plays:
14 times
Why do we like this?
Like most minimal techno artists, Pantha du Prince (Hendrick Weber) requires deep listening. You cannot trust his records to passively play in the background. Unless you're actively listening to him, he's not really playing. Try to sweep up your apartment while listening to his latest album, Black Noise, out this week on Rough Trade, and you'll see that you soon forget that it's even playing. You have to pay attention to a record like this to understand its charms, its quirks, its humanity.

Talking about individual songs on a record like this seems as ridiculous as talking about a single curlicue in a filigree design. This is an album in the truest sense of the word; it's a collection of parts that combine to make a whole artistic statement. If you start taking out individual pieces for inspection, you jeopardize the stability of the whole. The percussion on Black Noise is driven entirely by the stunningly depthless snaps and thumps of a precise machine. Icy chimes freeze to the microbeats while it all gets enveloped by misty clouds of synthesizers. The music swingings from warmly comforting ("Welt Am Draht") to vaguely menacing ("Behind the Stars"). And while most German techno sounds heartlessly mechanized, Pantha du Prince has located the ghost in the machine. The album's elegiac and urgent closer "Es Schneit" employs a frantic bell to ring out against the clouding synth washes. Sure, there's a frightening amount of mathematical precision in the song, but the song leaves listeners spooked, jittery for the final something that never quite comes.

Of course, Black Noise is receiving so much attention because of Noah Lennox's contribution to "Stick to My Side." This makes my point about the whole being greater than the parts a little moot, but the song's worth talking about. Person Pitch was an album that took as much inspiration from techno as it did from Brian Wilson. In other words, it was only a matter of time before this happened. Frankly, the song is passable, but Lennox's charmingly frail voice just doesn't quite fit in the clinically clean rooms of Black Noise. Think about it: "Walkabout" was so perfect because it sounded as ramshackle and sweet as Lennox frequently does.

While Pantha du Prince is less adventurous than the volks over at Kompakt, he does reward patient ears. Black Noise is the rare kind of album that can make us better listeners. This isn't the horny bass and clap of house music; Black Noise requires that you pay attention before the whole thing blooms like frozen crystal in your ears.

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