Pantha du Prince / The Bell Laboratory

Elements of Light

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Elements of Light sounds less like the fourth proper Pantha du Prince album than it does a commissioned work. Depending on the vantage point, it's either a logical progression or a creative dead end. A collaboration between Hendrik Weber and a cheekily-named ensemble of bell-equipped percussionists from Norway, it's the producer's most ambient work, more suitable for background listening than anything from his past. Considering the level of restraint and thickness of haze present throughout Diamond Daze, This Bliss, and Black Noise, that's saying something. The origin of this project dates back to a 2011 performance at Oslo's Øya Festival, but it wouldn't be shocking if the prompt came from a director who heard Black Noise and sought a film score -- one with a more organic and atmospheric fusion of lean techno and bell-dominated instrumentation. Much of the program is either pleasantly incidental or, in the case of the 13-minute "Particle," jumbled and more impressive than enjoyable. The 18-minute "Spectral Split," however, is perfectly formed and organized. It begins with soft tones and sustain, gently incorporates a subtle but anxious pulse, and builds into the album's most layered, dazzling, and active piece -- an oddly spirit-lifting delight for lovers of both "real" and pared down electronic music.

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