Pantha Du Prince - Biography
Pantha du Prince is the best-known moniker of German electronic musician Hendrik Weber. Producing under several aliases (Gluhen 4, Panthel) Weber is a mercurial sonic sculptor whose music explores the in-between spaces of minimal techno, avant-pop, and ambient music. Finding crossover success with 2007’s sublime This Bliss, Weber continues to create hypnotic, elegant, and extremely catchy dance music.
Pantha du Prince debuted with 2002’s Nowhere 12”. Released on Hamburg’s excellent Dial label, the EP consists of four tracks of sleek minimal house boasting a keen sense of organic structure and deeply spatial production. Two years later Weber released the first Pantha du Prince full-length, Diamond Daze. Again released via Dial, the record expands on the debut EP and crystallizes the Pantha aesthetic. Over ten lengthy tracks Weber sets forth a signature sound made up of intricate, padded drum programming recalling the best of classic Detroit techno a la Carl Craig augmented by a dense palette of tones and textures drawing from shoegaze and ambient music. These emotive tracks span a broad range of moods, from sinister to blissed-out, at times sonically brash and at other times extremely restrained. Perhaps most importantly, Weber’s deft use of melody elevates his brand of minimal tech-house above legions of other producers. Butterfly Girl Versions, a 12” of remixes of one of the album’s best tracks, was released in 2005 featuring remixes from Dial lablemates Sten and Efdemin as well as an ambient remake from Pantha himself.
2006 brought the Lichten / Walden 12”, an EP featuring two new tracks showcasing Weber’s growing production skills and hinting at the grand work to come. While Diamond Daze was well received in the world of techno, 2007’s This Bliss gained Weber almost universal acclaim. Touted by the dance music press as one of the year’s best records, This Bliss found crossover success when Pitchfork praised the album’s deep atmospheres, gliding rhythms, and ecstasy-inducing melodies. Cinematic and unabashedly epic, these ten tracks are nearly perfectly produced. Pantha’s sonic world is made up of menacing basslines, padded, whirring rhythms, electrical gales of drones, and the ever present sound of metallic percussion. Indeed, the melodies on almost every track consist of interlocking chimes, bells, xylophones, gongs, etc. These urgent elements merge with grainy synths and melancholy strings to form a foggy world that is both sorrowful and euphoric. Every second of this album is stuffed with detail, yet the music manages to sound elegant and restrained. With This Bliss Weber found his unique take on classic minimal techno.
Weber maintained a strong presence at festivals around the world in the subsequent years. The Splendour and Behind The Stars, two new EPs, both surfaced on Dial in 2009. In 2010, Weber left his longtime label and signed with Rough Trade, releasing the Lay In A Shimmer 12” prior to his third full-length that same year. Black Noise doesn’t deviate far from the successful template laid out on This Bliss. Weber sticks to his throbbing, deeply atmospheric, bell-driven techno across eleven gorgeous tracks. These songs do feel a bit darker and more experimental than previous work, and many feature elliptical, elaborately unfolding structures that, at the album’s best, can be truly mesmerizing. Featuring guest spots from LCD Soundsystem bassist Tyler Pope and Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, Weber solidifies his alliance with the progressive elements of indie rock without overdoing the pop strains in his unique sound. Overall Black Noise is a densely detailed labyrinth of an album, expanding the trademark Pantha du Prince sound while amplifying the traits that make it so engaging. The record is one more success in the distinctive creative trajectory of a genuinely singular producer.