Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2013-01-14

Hamburg techno producer Hendrik Weber returns with this album of compositions built around the chimes of a three-tonne carillon comprised of 50 bronze bells ('the Bell Laboratory'). Music styles shift from the upbeat house of 'Photon' to the ambient, Eno-friendly drones which open the epic 'Spectral Split', all using as their centrepiece the dings, dongs and mighty, sometimes ominous reverberations of Weber's bells.

As pretty as the resulting music is, recalling at times the clockwork clatter of minimalism of Tortoise's TNT album, it's hard not to feel that the concept and window-dressing is often more interesting than work itself. For example, 'the Bell Laboratory' title is taken from the laboratories where Max Mathews developed one of the first computer programs to play music back in the 1950s. Such attention-to-detail reflects the intricacies of the best parts of Elements of Light, as on the 12-minute 'Particle' where repetitive, nerve-end chimes mix with looped, pitch-shifted sound effects.

Although minimalist techno is Weber's speciality, this album is at its best when it simply lets the chimes shine, as on the beautifully unadorned 'Quantum' and 'Wave'. True, a whole album of nothing but chimes would be a little dull but one can't help feeling that by marrying the bell sounds to his beats, Weber has limited the possibilities of both a little. Ultimately, it just feels like the idea is more absorbing than the finished result.

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