Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory – Elements of Light

...it’s enlightening, revelatory in passages. Who’d have thunk it, eh, bells??

http://www.roughtraderecords.co.uk http://www.konkurrent.nl

A brilliant record, far too short (I could have wished it twice as long), in that its propensity to have you tripping meditatively along to the beautiful and righteous concord of harmony and space is immense. All hail inspiration! And let’s have – on this evidence - more work with The Bell Laboratory. Pantha du Prince (known to his mother as Hendrik Webe) was undoubtedly hit by a creative thunderbolt when he first heard the bell carillon played in Oslo last year and this new release – born of his desire to work with The Bell Laboratory - does feel like the result of an astute match, as PdP's music displays similar elements; (you can hear clear melodic and rhythmic nods to Black Noise in Particle). Regardless, it’s a brilliantly easy listen, always accessible and at times creating sublime passages of sound.

It’s very much a record that you can stick on and trust to do its job. The tracks segue into each other with hardly a moment to spare: this is smooth stuff, but always (like with the opening track, and the break for the beats three quarters through Particle) a sensitively constructed listen. The sparking pattern of bells that start Wave quickly mutate into something more substantial and rhythmical in Particle; which then begin to establish themselves in the latter half of this track, finding release in the soulful, poppy melody of Photon. Only when Photon does this section give way for something else again; Spectral Split is a meditative piece, building from scratch again and blossoming out into a brilliantly trippy groove, arraigned with a sparkling, chiming sonic vestment. Spectral Split has something of the panoramic sweep of a widescreen film, something of a road trip about it too. It’s magnificent. Elsewhere, Quantum has a beautifully mysterious melody driving it, somehow an inverted logic leads the chiming harmonies along an enchanted path towards the end; Weber did similar on Black Noise but the beautiful, crystalline sound on display here is possibly the apogee of this kind of softness.

The precision of the bells’ sounds, and the fact that the notes struck are inherently short in life anyway gives a sparkling quality to the record; there are no washes of sound, there are no attempts to broad-brush over areas of the record to give breathing space, or balance. No: the balance and the space is in the chimes of the bells, and as such it’s demands a certain mind-set from the listener, but not one that is difficult or in any way off-putting. Rather it’s enlightening, revelatory in passages. Who’d have thunk it, eh, bells??

My record of the year so far.