Release Date: May 20, 2016
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
Techno’s appeal is often its inhumanity. Recondite, Shed, or Surgeon make fine-tuned, precision instruments with which to beat you over the head. It’s about total submission, as the listener becomes a part of the machine’s inner workings: a machine seemingly more engineered than written. Whilst that has never quite been the modus operandi of Heinrick Weber (Pantha Du Prince), his music has never yet borne a human face.
German-born non-feline, pseudo-royalty Pantha Du Prince, known to his mum as Hendrik Weber, returns a mere six years after 2010’s Black Noise with another slice of minimal electro, called The Triad. Weber’s recent output has veered away from club-based beats to incorporate a dense web of heavenly-gazed intricacies, and The Triad continues along this trajectory. Utilizing more traditional acoustic elements coupled with heavily processed field recordings, The Triad is lent a distinctly pagan feel in places, while never losing sight of Pantha Du Prince’s trademark melancholic, somnambulant techno.
Techno is often dismissed as clinical music, engineered for precision impact. But an irony of the genre—and one that Hendrik Weber, who records as Pantha du Prince, understands deeply—is that, though technical by definition, techno is most satisfying when you can feel the human inside the machine. This is the case with The Field’s analog loops and Ricardo Villalobos’ live samples; it’s what makes Holly Herndon’s cerebral experiments compelling and breathes life into Jon Hopkin’s chilliest compositions.
No one makes techno as harmonic and angelic as Pantha du Prince. His third album—2010’s Black Noise—proved that, and since then German Hendrik Weber has been forever honing his richly musical sound with some high faulting projects involving The Bell Laboratory and their three-ton, 50-bell carillon. Happily, though, he has recently found time to get back into the studio and work on a proper follow up to Black Noise that finds him working less on his own and much more collaboratively with musicians he has met along the way.
Pantha Du Prince is unleashed once again on The Triad, the long awaited return of electro-virtuoso Hendrick Weber with a collection of entrancing, liberating compositions. Helped to fruition by Scott Mou and Bendik Kjeldberg of The Bell Laboratory (forming the triad), Weber's elaborate dance designs are also uninhibited, inducing the sensation of being at the wheel of a speedboat with nothing but open sea before you. .
The Triad is Pantha du Prince's fourth full-length for alternative institution Rough Trade (including a remix album and 2013's collaboration with the Bell Laboratory), but in some ways, it reflects the German techno producer's indie rock influences more than his previous releases. Vocals have a greater presence than before, and dreamy guitars even make a few appearances. It still sounds unmistakably like Pantha du Prince, however, with lean, steady beats framing the producer's signature crystalline melodies.
Following the collaborative, bell-centric Elements of Light with the Bell Laboratory in 2013, The Triad finds Pantha Du Prince's Hendrik Weber returning to the finely tuned, elegant and precise minimal techno he made the Pantha name on, with a slight alteration: a newfound fondness for singing.Over half of the tracks on The Triad feature vocals, either from Weber himself or Scott Mou, a.k.a. Mr. Queens, who sings on both "The Winter Hymn" and "In an Open Space," lending additional humanity and warmth to an album already defined by a feeling of looseness, the type of groove that can only come from a collective playing music together in a room.
Of all electronic subgenres, house perhaps most distinctly straddles the border between performative DJ culture and meticulous ambient minimalism, its rigid 4/4 repetition tweaked in either direction via dozens of distinct micro-genres. German multi-hyphenate Pantha du Prince, born Hendrik Weber, has fittingly dubbed his own micro-genre “sonic house,” which at this point seems to constitute hypnotically monotonous beats, shuffled into recurring patterns across album-length collections of thematically interlinked songs, whose inflexibility is repeatedly re-contexualized through bits of found sound and repeating sonic motifs. The Triad expands on this aesthetic through an actual collaborative trio formed between Pantha, Mr.
Germany’s Hendrik Weber aka Pantha Du Prince has been in the techno game about a decade-and-a-half, but his new line-up (all three of whom share in the vocal duties) shows signs of mellowing. The more relaxed end of electronica has been through all manner of progressions since the acid house era, but most of those variations seem to be in high production at the moment and all, when stretched thin, can be decidedly wishy-washy. Weber thankfully doesn’t resort to the ultimate blissout cop-out sound – chillwave.
‘The Triad’ is German techno auteur Pantha du Prince’s first solo studio album in six years, and it follows ‘Black Noise’, a record that Pantha - otherwise known as Hendrik Weber - composed entirely in a small Berlin apartment. In a statement, Weber states that ‘The Triad’ is about “more human ways of interacting, not digitised ways of interacting,” and it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. Introverted, sparse, yet often melodic and lush, ‘The Triad’ isn’t the most easy record to get on with, but then again, you could say the same for most human interactions.
While the sombre techno end of dance music may bring to mind the grim modernity of cities like Berlin and Detroit, there are many artists leaning towards the romance of woodlands and mountains. Artists like Pantha Du Prince (Hendrik Weber), DJ Koze and his label-signee Robag Wruhme almost seem to have adapted the classical nationalism of composers like Aaron Copland and Edvard Grieg to the modern day. With The Triad, the solo follow-up to 2010's excellent Black Noise, German producer Pantha Du Prince digs further into this strand of wintery techno.
The German minimalist producer and stickler for a conceptual framework recently explained his ambition to “cut through the digital dust that surrounds us” with his new album, The Triad. Panther du Prince’s aim is to celebrate human interaction, jamming, even, in an age of GarageBand and disconnect. While this first solo album in six years is elevating, and intricate in its elegance and rhythmic propulsions, it remains uncluttered by the chaos of true, visceral emotion.
When Pantha Du Prince's second album, This Bliss, was released in 2007, RA said of its wistful minimal house, "There's a timelessness to it that really deserves a wider audience. " Indeed, as one commenter put it in February 2015, "8 years later and this album still delivers. " Minimal dance music has been on the rise recently, and electronic music in general only continues its rippling spread into popular culture, becoming ever more strange and interesting at the epicenter.
Pantha du Prince’s sleepy new album The Triad reaches far beyond the nebulous boundaries of ambient music, a genre which is widely misunderstood to be best used as background noise rather than for active listening, but in the course of the record’s long strands of repetitive rhythms and stilted melodies, it’s that hazy veil of atmosphere—the soft, long resonance of the chimes, the rumbling undertones of the percussion, the sustaining waves of background synthesizers—that lends the album its character, and so it’s this ambience that defines The Triad. The record is Hendrik Weber’s first solo album under the Pantha du Prince name in six years, but while those kinds of details typically inspire anticipation for a final product that’s been long in the making, The Triad is not the type of album that holds up to any enthusiastic hype. It’s tone is quiet and tender, reserved beyond the point of typical downtempo standards, and its 10 long songs are agonizingly, excruciatingly tranquil.
Pantha du Prince — The Triad (Rough Trade)It’s easy to see how Hendrik Weber’s collaboration with The Bell Laboratory on 2013’s Elements of Light was the only way it could go. As Pantha du Prince, Weber’s sumptuous minimal tech-house had rapidly evolved from average (2004’s Diamond Daze) to transcendent (2007’s This Bliss, still one of electronic music’s most complete statements of the last decade) thanks largely to his awareness and incorporation of sounds typically external to the style, stuff like shoegaze and Wim Wenders scores. Or, as 2010’s Black Noise would reveal, bells.
Henrik Weber, who records as Pantha Du Prince, is a great producer. As displayed on 2007’s latter-day techno classic This Bliss and 2010’s even better Black Noise, he’s got a great knack for balancing the utilitarian requirements of dance music and his own ideas of mood and texture. Organic percussion, mostly bells, is his not-so-secret weapon, and he deftly arranges them into sparkling melodies and unpredictable chord changes.