Electronic music

Album Review: Pantha Du Prince – Garden Gaia

[BMG; 2022]

In the world of electronic music, the notion of a household name is both a bit new and laughable. Perhaps Skrillex at the height of its popularity; maybe Paris Hilton, but that’s incidental given her ubiquity and the nation’s general obsession with her every move; maybe the cake tosser from a few years ago, but good luck remembering his name.

In Europe as in the United States, there is a quasi-exception to this. The three “artists” I just highlighted were all made, packaged, and rocket-launched in Ibiza and the like. Their objectives were aimed at a very specific environment; a decidedly different fanbase of an artist like Prince Pantha. Fans of the German producer have become more attached to the intricacies of rolling bell sounds, fast shakers and all sorts of woody percussion featured on classics now This happiness and black noise. It’s this fan who has helped Pantha du Prince, along with luminaries like Andy Stott, Floating Points and John Hopkins, become part of this group of super-talented producers who are (relatively speaking, mind) household names.

Pantha du Prince’s catalog is striking in its consistency, starting with that of the tech-house giant in 2007, Diamond stunat the most fleshed out, bell-based, Panda-rocker black noise in 2010, with comparable calm and contemplation Tree Conference in 2020, with several more albums released in between. Hendrik Weber, who composes tracks under the name Pantha du Prince, knows what sounds are genuinely engaging and he leans on those to create tracks that are unlike anything else, but can still light up a floor. and appeal to the average headphone listener.

Or, should I say, just about anything, because those unfamiliar with Efedemin’s early hit releases on Dial Records, or Christian Loeffler’s jaw-dropping range of lengths can surely expect hear much of the same tribal bells and micro beats. who animate the productions of Pantha du Prince. It is the first eponymous album of the first and that of the second A forest on Ki Records; these two long players, as well as Gaia Garden all include bell beats that underpin the tracks, fleshed out compositions lasting five to six minutes, and landing somewhere between the dance floor and an exploratory drum circle.

The album comes together piece by piece like a hot wind on the opener “Open Day”, where Weber sets a loose and organic vibe, with much of the percussion played (or sounding) live: shakers, xylophones, wooden blocks and a stream of water are methodically added to cryptic synth lines and shimmering cymbals. And, yes, those magical, unmissable bells are always around the corner. A haunting melody grows more compelling with each listen, while bongo drums blaze and xylophones keep time.

“Start a New Life” features plenty of acoustic guitar plucks, alongside buzzing violin, dulcimer, and challenging percussion. It’s a far, far cry from your standard 120 beats per minute, and much closer to the Animal Collective-dominated campground circa 2002 or 2003. It’s the type of track, like many, that begs repeated scrutiny.

On another standout, “Blue (Bendik HK Edit),” Weber duets with a set of soft, reverberant female vocals. Shakers abound alongside a near-Amen break. Rhythm becomes spatial; reminiscent, in fact, of the celestial delayed synth pads of The Orb. The synth drone methodically disintegrates as it progresses, taking with it light streaks of a string melody.

When Pantha du Prince releases an album, there is undoubtedly a significant demographic that gets excited. One of those reasons, far beyond the Panda Bear factor or the LCD Soundsystem connections, is that it produces really great music. It has developed its own group of sounds and it works with specific parameters in a variety of unexpected modes. For the first time in a long time, however, the energies he expended converged on a true work of art.