December 13, 2012

Adam Wray was wearing Lugz at the 12/12/12 charity show.

Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince is one of the finest minimal techno craftsmen. His 2010 LP Black Noise was elegant and refined, making up for with precision what it lacked in raw energy. Last year, Weber linked with Norweigan collective The Bell Laboratory for a performance at Øyafestival that married his production to the group’s live instrumentation. The Bell Laboratory is aptly named — chiming percussion is their bread and butter. Weber and the group have extended their collaboration across a new, 5-track LP called Elements of Light, due out January 15.

Elements of Light is, according to Rough Trade’s press release, “a symphony for electronics, percussion and bell carillon, a three-tonne instrument comprising 50 bronze bells.” And while the concept sounds a bit academic, “Photon” is anything but. It sounds like a natural extension of Weber’s Black Noise. It’s a serious toe-tapper, slipping under your skin and wrapping itself around the base of your spine in a way that’s typical of continental European techno. The Bell Laboratory’s contributions lend the track a sense of warmth missing from Weber’s past work. The marimba in particular brightens things up, recalling the steel pan on Jamie xx’s now-classic “Far Nearer.”

As enjoyable as “Photon” is, I suspect Elements of Light will really blossom in a live setting. The sound of a marimba, a xylophone, even a bell carillon can be sampled and deployed at will. But this project is about the blending of acoustic and electronic. It’s a cyborg, which is easy to forget when you’re jamming it on your iPhone. The group plans to tour the project in late 2013, and if this clip from Øyafestival is any indication, seeing it performed live will restore some of its aura.


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