Release Date: Apr 19, 2011
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Experimental Techno
There are albums, and there are remix albums – however very rarely do you come across albums as good as Pantha Du Prince's Black Noise. But it is equally rare to see a remix album featuring as strong a line-up as this one. The likes of Four Tet and Animal Collective are the heavy hitters here, however with excellent contributions from as varied a group of artists as Lawrence, Walls and Die Vogel, they are by no means the only highlights.
A year on from the release of Black Noise, one of 2010's most masterful and celebrated electronic releases, Hamburg techno maven Hendrik Weber issued this straightforwardly titled revisitation, boasting an enviable roster of A-list remixers that reflects his unique position straddling both the mainstream of European minimal electronica (Basic Channel pioneer Moritz von Oswald; Weber's erstwhile Dial labelmates Efdemin, Lawrence, and Carsten Jost) and the wider well of broadly indie-friendly acts (Four Tet, Animal Collective). Fully eight of these "versions" are based on a mere two of Black Noise's 11 cuts, with "Stick to My Side" alone accounting for five. Still, even though these are largely respectful reworkings, altering musical content but rarely the underlying emotional tone -- nobody effects a transformation nearly as striking, for instance, as the shift from the picturesque painted landscape on the original album cover to the stark, elegant, abstraction adorning XI Versions -- the resulting collection manages to be just as pleasantly varied and cohesively listenable as Black Noise, while distinct enough to be worth investigating on its own right.
Until last year's Rough Trade-released Black Noise, I had a difficult time thinking of Pantha du Prince as a normal artist. Minimal electronic music, mind you, is not rock when it comes to larger-than-life presences: Most of these guys look like bike messengers with better connections at the Apple store. But Pantha, who to that point had released two albums of bell-laden, dreamlike productions, seemed more like a techno vampire (I'll admit that his spooky/scary haircut had something to do with this).
There are all sorts of reasons I probably shouldn’t have asked to write this review. For starters, I have incredibly limited intimate knowledge of the workings of electronic music. I know and like (in some cases, even love) all the cursory and canon releases, and I try to stay up on certain trends and of course there are artists that I discover and really like.
Releasing an entire album of remixes from a previously well-received full-length can be an unnecessary addition to an artist’s catalog. A remix album can solidify unfinished ideas and add unity to an existing album, but it can also go awry. Electronic artist Pantha Du Prince‘ s XI Versions of Black Noise falls somewhere in the middle. XI Versions of Black Noise consists of 11 remixes of five original tracks from the previously released Black Noise .
A marvellously multifaceted remix record that well complements the essential original. Mike Diver 2011 Remix records typically come out one of two ways. Some complement the original long-player to the extent that hearing one without the other is like running a marathon without a rhino suit – half the experience you could be having. Others: shallow cash-in sets, simple as.
When listening to the kind of music Pantha Du Prince is known for – ornate, orchestral, lush – the sheer strength of the compositions, alone, can blow you away. If you travel back to his second, beautiful album, This Bliss, one would be hard-pressed to find a more appropriate title. Affluent with disciplined layers of sounds and tones that all together enveloped into a sweepingly superb sound that is some kind of electronic, some kind of techno, some kind of classical.