Pantha Du Prince’s last studio album, 2010’s Black Noise, was a masterpiece of minimal electronica informed by glitchy dance music, icy techno, and Teutonic precision. Although nearly vocal-free, the album had the cadences and urgency of a more structured collection; on many songs, cascades of shimmering bells contributed melancholy.
Elements Of Light—a collaboration between Pantha Du Prince (real name: Hendrik Weber) and Norway’s The Bell Laboratory—is a natural extension of Black Noise: Solemn bells ring, click, and sputter atop meticulous electronic programming (“Photon”), eerie ambient space (the Eno-like beginning of the sprawling “Spectral Split,” the anxious lullaby “Wave”), and percussion (the bustling end of “Spectral Split”). Although dribbling-basketball beats (“Particle”) and rigid digital beats (“Photon”) add urgency, silence is as much of a weapon as chattering noise. For example, the slow-motion, faint resonating chimes of “Quantum”—the only sounds on the song—gradually fade into silence to end the album.
Elements Of Light is five separate songs, but it was composed as one continuous piece of music. While obviously a cohesive work, this also means its shifts in melody, tempo, and texture are gradual and subtle—so much so that the album lacks variety—and there aren’t enough melodic hooks to create a compelling sonic narrative. In other words, Elements Of Light is missing momentum and velocity—two things needed to sustain an all-instrumental symphony. Unfortunately, this means the album ends up as pleasant background noise—and not much more.