Wednesday 17 January 2018

Laboratory's elemental bell music experience

John Meagher

John Meagher

Pantha du prince & the bell laboratory

Elements of Light

(Rough Trade)


The Berlin-based Hendrik Weber has become an in-demand remixer for such artists as Animal Collective and veteran minimalist composer Philip Glass.

The ambient-techno producer has also released a trio of albums under his Pantha Du Prince moniker which have served to bolster his reputation as one of the most innovative German musicians of his generation.

His standing will be boosted further thanks to his latest, singular album. The wholly instrumental Elements of Light is a collaboration with a bells-obsessed Norwegian collective and is quite unlike anything you'll hear in 2013. A veritable symphony built around percussion, sparse electronica and, yes, bells – lots of bells – it features one intricately textured track after another.

The beguiling album was created with the help of a carillon – a multiple-bell instrument normally housed in a bell tower.

Weber had a three-tonne carillon, featuring 50 bronze bells, shipped to his studio from Denmark and he certainly makes the most of its extraordinary capabilities.

Credit must also go to Vegar Sandholt, the Norwegian musician whom Weber had first heard playing a similar instrument in Oslo's City Hall, and whose performance here helps make this album such a richly rewarding listen.

A cornucopia of instruments vie for attention including tubular bells, marimbas, xylophones and cymbals as well as handclaps and finger snaps and it is to Weber's immense credit, not to mention his skills in the studio, that the results are magical rather than misguided.

There are, technically, five tracks – with Particle and Spectral Split exceeding the 12 and 17-minute marks respectively – but this is an album truly designed to be listened to from beginning to end.

KEY TRACKS Particle; Spectral Split

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