Having always been a fan of music which caters for the more chilled out side of life, my brain is indeed thankful for this new Pantha Du Prince release; The Elements of Life, with Bell Laboratory. This isn’t just any old bell we’re talking about either! This is a set up many would dream of getting a bang off. The inspiration came from the carillon as a structure in cities such as Oslo and Berlin. Hendrik Weber (Mr. Pantha) had experienced the tonal variations the carillon allows for and was intrigued, so much so, he just had to incorporate one into his live performances. He proceeded to record the Oslo carillon and constructed one which he could take on tour, which consists of bronze bells, whose musical range is triggered by the 50 bells set up with it. His team of other percussion/bell enthusiast musician type folk brought the entire process together and the release is currently on tour.
I’m often one for throwing on tunes before I sleep and this release is one of those which is perfect for that in between awake and asleep time. Immediately the sonic explorations reach for the inner most part of the brain and the resonating sounds begin to assume their place before you’ve even acknowledged the fact that something different is going on here.
Weber’s minimalistic approach to electronic music has often produced slowly accelerated tunes, and this release has gone even further down the slowly unfolding path. Not only meditative, it’s so engaging at times that it’s not until you snap out of it that you realise it’s caught you. Whether this was the intention or not is another thing.
When the 4/4 does creep in, it’s complimentary to the Bell Laboratory scores and is definitely focusing on allowing the organic theme to progress. As is seen in “Particle” where the bass lies like a heart beat alongside the bell.
The sheer effort that went into recording the Oslo carrillon and incorporating it into a live set is something which I can appreciate. Especially in a music world where improvisation and experimentation constantly cross paths. There’s a quality on this EP that only live instruments can bring and Weber worked well with his approach.
While definitely a long release at just over 42 mins, with only 5 tracks, it seems like Weber’s dream of experimenting with bells has been conquered and the effect is cataclysmic. Perfect in a certain time and place. While I did prefer the lure of the first two tracks, the lull left by the second half of the release has sent me off on a few peaceful sleeps now so thumbs up for that!