Release Date: Feb 9, 2010
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno
'Black noise' is a frequency known to humans as silence. It exists on the spectral level heard by animals, the kind of sound that prefix natural disasters - an earthly organic mutation of sonics. It is this intangibility and awe that Pantha Du Prince shoots for on his Rough Trade debut record of the same name. For an album that is already being touted with potential to cross over into the indie mainstream, it admirably doesn’t pander to its new audience.
Though he lacks the crossover name recognition of producers like the Field, Burial, and Lindstrøm, Germany's Hendrik Weber is one of the leading figures in modern techno. As Pantha du Prince, he has up until now released two albums of meticulous, minimal-inspired house music. The last, 2007's This Bliss, found the rare balance between ambient sweep and dancefloor bounce, and it's only grown in stature since its release.
Perhaps most accurately described as “bedroom techno,” Black Noise, the third album from in-demand German producer Hendrick Weber under the moniker Pantha du Prince, is a triumph of minimalism and fragile soundscapes. Beginning each of his tracks with a palette of silence, Weber builds intricate rhythmic structures that project delicacy, as though he were tapping diamonds and icicles together to create his music. The album sounds enough like the instrumental portions of Björk’s Vespertine that it isn’t hard to imagine Weber stomping through a field of snow to create a percussion line.
On his third album as Pantha du Prince, German electronic musician Hendrik Weber explores the notion that there are natural sounds that, while inaudible to human ears, affect our environment and may presage disasters such as earthquakes. Expounded on the inner sleeve, this premise reads like the introduction to a scientific paper, but you don't need a degree in seismology to admire the results. Weber evokes those moments when we experience nature not cerebrally, but sensually, creating music that crackles like static in a sky burdened with storm (The Splendour), then glitters like a rain-soaked landscape illuminated by sun (Welt am Draht).
Since his second full-length as Pantha du Prince, 2007's truly sublime, duly acclaimed This Bliss, Henrik Weber has gradually expanded his profile beyond the traditional confines of the minimal electronic realm, turning in remixes for the likes of Animal Collective, Bloc Party, and the Long Blondes and, in 2009, making the surprising shift from Hamburg's Dial Records to venerable indie rock label Rough Trade, hardly an imprint known for its electronica output. Black Noise, his first album for Rough Trade, bolsters those indie credentials further with a couple of guest spots: !!!'s Tyler Pope plays bass on one cut, and Noah Lennox (Panda Bear, Animal Collective) sings on another. "Why stick to the things that I've already tried?," Lennox muses in his drippy, hazily harmonized fashion on the typically lovely "Stick to My Side" -- and indeed, why shouldn't we expect Weber to branch out a bit? As it happens, though, Lenox's vocals are about the extent of the overt musical innovation on offer here.
A lot of techno searches for the hedonist in its fans. You know, the one who at six in the morning is still sweating it out on the dancefloor of a Berlin basement club and not bothered by the fact that they have work in three hours. But despite the heavy influence of techno on Hedrik Weber, a.k.a. Pantha Du Prince, Black Noise shows a different character.
Black Noise is the third Pantha du Prince full-length, and though released on Rough Trade, it stays very much in the vein of his most recent album, The Bliss, released on Hamburg’s Dial Records. It is reflective of the blend of techno, house, and more ambient moods that has come to define Dial, but it also embodies the relationship between the natural world and electronic music technologies explored by earlier, more Kosmiche German groups like Popol Vuh, Cluster, and Harmonia. That said, Pantha du Prince (a.k.a.
It’d be hard for any artist to follow-up an album like Pantha Du Prince’s 2007 deep house masterpiece This Bliss. Yet, in doing so, Hendrik Weber, the lone man behind said project and the auteur who defined the Dial Records sound, has established a three year holding pattern between albums, which is, as the cliché dictates, a lifetime for the world of electronic music. This means that: 1) we can expect the next full length from him to drop around 2013; and 2) Weber spent a great deal of time negotiating the intricacies of his latest LP, Black Noise, since he dropped This Bliss upon unsuspecting listeners in the latter half of the previous decade.
I've found it hard to really get under the skin of this record. However I try, it seems to elude me, skipping away into the distance in a fog of tumbling, twinkling sequencer patterns. For a record with such high expectation, his first for Rough Trade, it seems Pantha Du Prince, aka Germany's Hendrick Weber, has somehow lost his way. This is all somewhat strange considering This Bliss, Weber's 2007 breakout record, enjoyed near-constant rotation on my mp3 player of choice, becoming a trusty companion on dark train journeys and those muted wanderings that take place to and from work.
There are moments of clarity, where everything coalesces into one sublime moment of understanding. This understanding, this realization or epiphany, so to say, always comes with a heavy amount of preparation. And it’s hardly unusual for a moment of such profound activity to naturally come out of nowhere – not unless, it’s the work of some sort of higher power.
He demonstrates a gift for generating heavily melodic mazes of sound. Chris Power 2010 In 2007, This Bliss, German producer Pantha du Prince’s exquisite second album, stood out in what had become an increasingly sterile minimal house scene. In the time it’s taken follow-up Black Noise to arrive, minimal has ceded its throne to deep house as the dominant underground style, the record store racks groaning under the weight of tunes smothered in congas, organs, and all too many spoken-word reminders that what you’re listening to, in case you weren’t really sure, is ‘house music’.