Wu-Tang Clan may have porked out over the years, but there’s no doubt that Pantha du Prince was responsible for the heaviest performance at Primavera this year, with a stage set dominated by a three-tonne instrument comprised of 50 gleaming bronze bells.
The carillon is the centrepiece of Hamburg techno producer Hendrik Weber’s latest album, ‘Elements of Light’,
recorded with The Bell Laboratory, a handpicked ensemble of classically trained Norwegian musicians. Prince
Striking a balance between contemporary classical and dancefloor-ready
techno, the record is an ambitious follow-up to 2007’s Prince
‘This Bliss’, his acclaimed second album of accessible minimal techno, and 2010’s ‘Black Noise’, Prince
which saw him tweak and twist field recordings of bells into an irresistible atmosphere of starry-eyed euphoria.Prince
A few hours after their ecstatic performance in Primavera’s own indoor auditorium (a treat for knackered festivalgoers),
Weber told me about his love affair with bells and why he doesn’t need to know a thing about music theory.Prince
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You’ve been exploring the sound of bells for many years now – why do they continue to fascinate you?
Hendrik Weber: It’s a sound that has a certain physicality. As soon as you hear it, you connect it to a physical object.
This is a fascinating thing, when you have this interfering of seeing and hearing, when it becomes one.Prince
And at the same time the bell never has a consistent note, it changes. It has such a big variation of overtones and interferences, and the directions of the sound travelling, that you always have a kind of mess, which makes it so beautiful.
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Hearing the carillon in Oslo City Hall was one of the moments that inspired you to use the instrument on this record. What made that carillon special?
It has a lot to do with the environment of the place, the structure of the landscape, the city, the building.
The specific instrument has a different sound as well, as different manufacturers make them in different ways.
You have a lot of cheap ones that use cheap iron, and you can hear that the tones aren’t as refined. It’s an old, old handcraft. It’s an artform to create a nice bell.
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