CD: Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light | Classical music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light
German producer embraces the power of bells with likeable results
The carillon is the world’s heaviest musical instrument. It consists of a collection of bells, usually played via a keyboard. There’s one in Oslo’s town hall, many tons of bronze whose sound reverberates daily across the Norwegian capital. Hendrik Weber – AKA Pantha du Prince - is a German techno DJ-producer. He’s at the arty, modern-classical end of the spectrum, as interested in Steve Reich as Carl Craig. Hearing Oslo’s carillon he was inspired to make it the centrepiece of his fourth album. Such an idea could have bred a chin-stroking journey into noodling ambience but Weber instead nails a continuous 43-minute work, broken into five sections, that is gently persuasive.
He did not do this alone. While he has injected atmospheric electronics into the proceedings and a much needed pulse-beat that arrives midway through the second segment, “Particle”, and pops up again thereafter, he hauled in a multiplicity of percussive assistants to round out the sound. Members of contemporary jazz units the Nils Petter Molvær Trio and Jaga Jazzist worked alongside experts from the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra to create a sound that is sweet, rich and, most important, delicately tuneful.
There are clubland flavours swirling about but it’s far from a pounding dancefloor outing. The flavour throughout is a satisfying meld of head-nodding back-room grooves and light yet dynamic serialist classical. Things reach their apex during “Spectral Spilt” which builds and builds for over 17 minutes and is the nearest in scope to Pantha du Prince’s previous, housier productions. It’s an engaging piece that, after the slower scene-setting that precedes it, sweeps the listener off. There’s a fragility to Elements of Light and, yes, a sense that it’s a conceptual project, but happily it’s not a clinical, cerebral exercise, it’s a laid-back affair that has warm human heart.
Listen to "Photon"
Share this article
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more Classical music
Cannonades all round as Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture follows Rachmaninov and Stravinsky
Music trumps politics in youthful, even joyous Shostakovich 'Leningrad' Symphony
A second album for Berlin Phil musician will expand the repertoire downwards
Mozart and Mahler at a festival that's about so much more than just star-power
Full orchestral back-up for the charismatic chanteuse in trademark Weill and others
A dazzling contemporary opera, three classical symphonies and piano music from father and daughter
Perfect cello and piano duo spotlights Britten, with eastern liturgical music to follow
Feathery jewels from the pianist, but mixed fortunes for Nielsen’s battle-scarred symphony
Composer-clarinettist Jörg Widmann crowns a strong team in Messiaen's wartime meditation
20th century orchestral concertos in a riot of sophisticated colour from terrific teenagers
Musical youth and experience gather in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes
From Elgar at sea to the Eroica, a special relationship explored