First Listen: Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory "Elements Of Light"

Pantha Du Prince will release quite a conceptual album next week via Rough Trade. Not only are all of the two longer and three shorter tracks named after “Elements of Light” – like “Wave”, “Particle” or “Photon” – but his collaboration with the Norwegian “Bell Laboratory” resulted in the extensive use of bells as a major instrument on the record. But Pantha Du Prince, Hamburg resident Hendrik Weber, manages to not let the album seem rigid or caged by theoretical concepts at all – that is the biggest achievement and surprise of the release. The main reason for this has to be the origin of this sound in a live environment at last year’s Øya Festival in Norway – with a three ton bell carillon as a centerpiece.

The heavy bells oftentimes sound like church bells, contrasted by Pantha Du Prince’s trademark dry and minimal house beats. They work together fantastically, like a modern church foundation and the tower overhead, ringing. But especially the 17 minute centerpiece track “Spectral Split” astonishes with its lightness and playfulness, when the electronic elements rise up and dance with the bell ensemble. With a playtime of 44 minutes the record does not overstay its welcome and is best listened to in one blissful ringing session. I can’t wait to see them live at Club Transmediale Festival here in Berlin at the end of the month – if you are not as lucky, listen to a part of the live performance via Pitchfork below – or stream the whole album at NPR. And stay tuned for my live review in a few weeks!

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