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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’.
None of which need bother Hendrik Weber, aka Pantha du Prince, who might have ascended during the minimal era but was clearly never attached to its coattails. His gift for generating heavily melodic mazes of sound, which remains intact on Black Noise, makes that certain. But the new album offers a different kind of experience to its predecessor. Whereas This Bliss was an immersive experience, its tracks almost operating as discrete movements in a totalised whole, Black Noise explores its different moods and textures in a more compartmentalised way.
The flickering glockenspiel tones and pattering beat of Lay in a Shimmer, as well as the growling bass and descending marimba melody of Abglanz, provide a bridge from This Bliss. Things take a significantly different turn with Stick to My Side, however, as Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, delivers a plaintive vocal that works itself into a joyous loop above bumping analogue bass pulses.
After this striking highlight Black Noise glides into a slight lull that persists through the Underworld-like fidget of Satellite Snyper and the disappointingly anonymous electro house of Behind the Stars, which shows that when Weber promotes rhythm ahead of melody the effect can be underwhelming.
It’s with the album’s final trio that things return to the high standard of the first half. The vocal sighs, lush pads and subtle guitar elements of Welt am Draht contrast beautifully with the track’s spare, relentless rhythm, while the guitar sticks around for the brief strummed enchantment of Im Bann. Closing with the dizzying tintinnabulation of Es Schneit, a gentler cousin to Schiller’s 1999 progressive house monster Ruhe, Black Noise ends, fittingly, in the transporting, romantic mode it attains for an impressive proportion of its length. --Chris Power
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Top Customer Reviews
This is Weber's first release on Rough Trade and I first heard him on the extraordinary 12 inch single "Splendour". Think David Bowie's stunningly fragile "Moss Garden" off "Heroes" and set it in the Swiss Alps in Winter and that is the effect. It bubbles with chimes and beats and reminds you of falling snow. This album has you grasping for superlatives. The nearly seven minute long "Es schneit" is a particular highlight building on a slow wall of synths and a spare drum like motif it is an intensely powerful track and strangely beautiful. "Turn off you mind relax and float down stream" as someone once advised.
And yes of course you knew somewhere in this mix you would find the Animal Collective. "Stick by my Side" features a guest spot from Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) whose vocal accompanies a stunning song set to beats that have a Fever Ray style pulsing crispness in the instrumentation and clearly it is the most commercial song on the album. If this is the new direction for Animal Collective then its intriguing.
This is a very long album but all it requires is your rapt attention.Read more ›
Buy this album. Don't think about it, just pop it in your little amazon basket. If you are a creative like me, it'll make your brain buzz. Perfect to listen to while drawing, perfect for walking home in the evening from work in the rain, perfect for walking to the tube in the morning for work in the rain. Perfect for running (very light drizzle). Also perfect when there is no rain...but highly unlikely in this country. A beauty.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reminds me a little of Susumu Yokota but with more of a drive, some tracks, such a satellite snyper show a teasing pop sensibility.... Read more