Black Noise is the third Pantha du Prince full-length, and though released on Rough Trade, it stays very much in the vein of his most recent album, The Bliss, released on Hamburg’s Dial Records. It is reflective of the blend of techno, house, and more ambient moods that has come to define Dial, but it also embodies the relationship between the natural world and electronic music technologies explored by earlier, more Kosmiche German groups like Popol Vuh, Cluster, and Harmonia. That said, Pantha du Prince (a.k.a. Hendrik Weber) makes music that is more austere and less euphoric, if no less dedicated than these predecessors to evoking the sublime beauty of forests, mountains, and remote lakeside locales. He is most definitely a carrier of the German Romantic sensibility, and it is hardly surprising that he lists the famous Romantic landscape painter, Caspar David Friedrich, as an influence.
By releasing a record on Rough Trade, Weber confirms what was already apparent: However rooted his records may be in club culture, they are made to be listened to from start to finish, made to get lost in. Certainly, the tracks are not so much separate entities as different ways of thinking the same thing, of setting out paths that cross one another and lead to views of the same magnificent panorama from different perspectives. The track that stands out most here is, unsurprisingly, the collaboration with Panda Bear, “Stick to My Side.” Noah Lennox’s vocals float and sway on the surface of a throbbing bass-synth, chiming bell melodies, and, finally, swelling, plaintive strings, resulting in an enigmatic song charged by the ambiguity between the lyrics and the pulsing, swirling soundscape underpinning them.
With Black Noise, Weber does not break new ground, but with tracks like “The Splendour,” “Welt Am Draht,” and “Es Schneit,” he manages to dive deeper into the mesmeric template he has been developing. Melodies blow about like so many snowflakes shaking in the wind, and lazy, sluggish basslines carry the listener along as on a train crawling through an immense wilderness. It is not at all clear where you are heading when you board, and it becomes less and less important as the journey progresses, beauty on all sides, comfortably lost in the violet noise (more appropriate than black) suffusing everything at hand. Black Noise is a pertinent reminder that getting lost is one of the most underrated experiences easily accessible to each and every human being.