Once a year, just before the autumn cold of Europe sets in, Hendrik Weber goes to Israel to float in the Dead Sea. “You can see the death every day with the dying trees and the nature that’s transforming into something morbid,” Weber says of his native Germany. “I go to the Dead Sea for a week to float and to be on another planet.” You can imagine him in the water, drifting limp against low, light waves, ears bobbing between the sea and the air, the clipped and hollow sounds of this half-immersion surely something Weber wants to imitate—or maybe just record. As Pantha Du Prince, Weber’s songs, though dance music at their heart, are ultimately engulfing, soothing, and operate with the same lulling heartbeat pulse of the tides. He’s not interested in placating his brainstorms so much as fulfilling them wholly. Ten years ago, this manifested in sampling the noise of his intentionally crashed hard drive, because he liked the sound of the mistake, but now Weber’s cyberpunk leanings have ebbed, giving way to a subtler experimentation. “Asha,” a song from 2007’s This Bliss, is made up almost entirely of percussive sounds, but there are no hard edges, no crushing repetition. “Asha”’s most surprising detail and significant milestone is its ennobling bells, inaugurating an obsession Weber wades into deeply on his new album Black Noise, bathing everything in divine ringing.
For a minute, halfway through Black Noise’s “Satellite Sniper,” the insistent minimal beat is almost entirely consumed by boisterous bells of all sizes and tones, a thread throughout the album that could seem like a parlor trick were it not so consistently beautiful. Weber is so drawn to their holistic resonance and spiritual watermark that his fascination is undeniably genuine. “Before World War II, there were lots of churches all over Europe with tons of different bells, but the army needed the iron of the bells to produce weapons, so tons got destroyed.” he says. “I think we have a loss of bell sounds in this world, so I try to bring this heavenly atmosphere back, but without any religious background.” Though nowadays he doesn’t really go to clubs when he’s not performing, Weber perks significantly when talking about hearing his music through monster speakers, the loudness of club speakers as close to church towers as he can get.
Weber’s next project is writing music for “Last Laugh,” a ballet to be performed in the dark. He speaks of it in loose artistic theory (“It’s more the freedom of the sound itself. What is in the sound itself?”), before interrupting himself, knowing he sounds stargazey, to say we should talk about Pantha Du Prince—the base of his renewable spirit. “Musically, it’s everything, where everything can happen,” he says, never more jazzed than when looking into the open air of endless possibility.
Stream: Pantha Du Prince, Black Noise