Lovers of live music will tell you, no matter how good the recording quality of an album is, it can’t compare to the full-body sensation of a live performance. This goes exponentially more for orchestral instruments which, at their best, take advantage of the acoustics of the stage and the hall to create an enveloping, enchanting field of sound.
That’s exactly why MUTEK Montreal’s Nocturne 5 tonight (Sunday, June 2) will be so exciting: We’ll be hearing Pantha du Prince‘s latest electro-acoustic wonder, his collaboration with The Bell Laboratory. And we’ll be hearing it at one of Montreal’s finest concert spaces: La Maison symphonique, best known as the home of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
The Bell Laboratory isn’t just a cute name: The Norwegian percussion collective revolves around the use of an enormous bell carillon, a three-ton instrument with 50 bells, which will be played live onstage to accompany Pantha du Prince’s techno-based rhythms. The carillon is the biggest and heaviest of all known musical instruments. When employed by church towers, for example, you can hear them from miles away. A suitably splashy climax to another fabulous MUTEK.
This is the latest sonic stunt from Pantha du Prince, real name Henrik Weber. The critically acclaimed house / techno / dark ambient artist has recently made the acoustic-electronic fusion a signature of his work. Starting with two albums of textured but prototypically chilly minimal techno, Weber made a departure with 2010’s LP Black Noise, a strange juddering beast of an album that threw field recordings, dubsteb, woodblock percussion and odd samples into the mix.
The latest LP, Elements of Light, was released in January of this year, and is another departure entirely. It’s from Elements of Light that the carillon comes, and it’s a frankly beautiful idea. Weber strips back the urgency of techno and allows The Bell Laboratory to do their thing, ringing out gorgeous Glassian melodies, backed by delicate electronic rhythm and sweep.
A YouTube video can’t hope to capture the power of Bell Laboratory, which is why you need to hear this project live. But even so, you can start to imagine what this could feel like. Bells to shake your very bones:
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