Review Summary: detail reigns supreme again
The release is a collaboration between producer Hendrik Weber (a.k.a. Pantha Du Prince) and various percussionists, including a member of Jaga Jazzist, based out of Oslo, but its cohesive nature leads me to imagine while listening that it’s a product of a single band that’s known each other for decades. Weber’s technique was at its peak on 2010’s Black Noise
, in which he adeptly weaves minimal beats into mind-numbing, relaxing anthems. Even though the album was generally well-received (it earned “Best New Music from Pitchfork), accusations of “dull” and “boring” were thrown his way; on the other hand, I thought his minimalist techno was charming in its simple form. It’s striking the way Prince is able to create such engrossing rhythm and melody with so few ingredients. In his experiment with The Bell Laboratory, Weber is the conductor of a much more diverse array of constituents, and he directs them with ease into a well-flowing, slow-burning five tracks that engross more than they underwhelm. Still, I can’t help but wonder what could have been if Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory had somehow incorporated the “light” thematic more. The album’s namesake and track titles all revolve around light, but admittedly I didn’t get this sentiment from Elements of Light
on a substantial level.
The songs are best appreciated as a culmination of sounds rather than by their distinct facets; similarly, Elements of Light
is much better enjoyed as a whole, but it can be broken down into tracks. Taken apart from the others, “Particle Split” is an impressive display of techno that adds layer upon layer, displaying Pantha du Prince’s true calling -- attention to detail. Aside from that standout, the other highlight comes in the closer. “Quantum,” mostly only bells, is a decaying track that leaves the listener with four minutes of nothingness at the end, emphasizing the state of meditation-like numbness one is left with. Even with its lack of ingredients, Elements of Light isn’t necessarily an album that leaves us wanting more, per se. It’s a complete album that, while by no means a crowning achievement, shows off how well Panthu du Prince’s style and skill can be translated to similar modes of conveyance. That being said, wouldn’t it be nice to be awarded another, pure Pantha du Prince release later in 2013?