Pantha du Prince
Black Noise
(Rough Trade)

The early chatter on Black Noise was this was the cool German producer's crossover album, that its indie-rocker cameos and release via mostly rock label Rough Trade would push it into the fore of the American underground. It's funny, because Pantha du Prince (né producer Hendrik Weber) scoring a marginal hit with the cool kids of the USA is probably about 83 percent less lucrative than his existing popularity in mainland Europe, where techno is the people's music. (It also invariably means a lot of novice blogs comparing his minimal techno to elements and acts of nature—rain, seismic activity.)

Support The Stranger

Black Noise is Weber's most expansive and diverse work yet, and it does call attention to itself—it's far more outgoing than anything else that's come out of the Hamburg scene. The album's cameos, from Animal Collective's Panda Bear ("Stick to My Side") and Tyler Pope of !!! ("Behind the Stars"), are the album's low and high points, respectively. The last few years of AC omnipotence and influence has been plenty; I do not want that ol' Bear singsong croonin' in my techno. "Behind the Stars" spreads sinister spoken narration (once a classic staple of early Midwestern tech and house) over Weber's love note to Detroit's frostiest techno, which expands and then dissolves in heavy, fried sub-bass.

The rest of the album is kind of salad-bar servings: There is some diligent ambient, some dark washes of clatter ("Abglanz"), a droning track that is seemingly built around a recording of someone walking in the snow ("Im Bann"), and a suitable cooldown for your workout mix (album opener "Lay in a Shimmer"). Black Noise is more compositionally busy than its minimal tag would lead you to believe, but the multitasking causes the album to alternate between a boon and a bother. recommended