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Album Review
Black Noise

Black Noise
by Pantha Du Prince

Rough Trade

Review Date
16th March 2010
Reviewed by
Ryan Eyers

While few people in these parts may have heard of German minimal techno producer/DJ Hendrick Weber, a.k.a Pantha du Prince, listening to his third album Black Noise should make any fan of ambient, electro or simply beautiful music stand up and take notice. From the outset, opener ‘Lay In A Shimmer’ sets the tone with its delicate yet intoxicating mix of quirky percussion, soothing ambient touches and deft xylophonic punches, serving as the perfect introduction for an album that excels at building a dreamy, gorgeous sonic environment and thoroughly exploring it throughout its 70+ minutes.

Throughout Black Noise this sense of exploration is continuous; an unsurprising fact considering that much of the recording was based on Weber’s experimentation with field recordings, found sounds and sessions of improvisation in the Swiss Alps. Song titles and breaks become almost irrelevant as the album segues together into a morphous, moving whole that transports the listener to a musical nirvana where every sound exists both on its own and as part of a unified landscape that calms, intrigues and captivates. Brian Eno would be proud; this is ambient techno at its subliminal best.

A notable exception that stands out is ‘Stick To My Side’, a song that marrys Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox’s giddy, dreamy vocals with Weber’s snappy beat, twinkling chimes and whirling scratches, a match that embodies the albums trance-inducing ability but retains its individuality through Lennox’s vocal delivery. Elsewhere the pairing of ‘Bohemian Forest’ and ‘Welt Am Draht’ have a cleaner, crisper sound that resembles a more relaxed, earthy Hot Chip circa The Warning. The album closes with the shimmering ‘Es Schneit’, a song that builds with frantic bells and a slow, pulsing beat before climaxing into a garbled wash of dripping water and synthetic tones.

Overall, the only quibble that you might have with Black Noise would be the lack of variation between tracks, but this seems to miss the point considering the album should ideally be listened to as a singular experience in order to fully appreciate it. This is beautifully rich, intricate and transportive music that anyone, but especially fans of Four Tet and Telefon Tel Aviv, should listen to and love. Coupled with Four Tet’s recently released gem There Is Love In You, Black Noise shows that 2010 is already a brilliant year for electronica.

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