Friday 31. 3.
Pantha du Prince
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
There’s a song inside each and every thing – and inside every state. And it exists, this joy-inducing primal frequency, this renowned sound wave that can penetrate bodies and move them to stasis. A stasis that may bring change.
Since 2012 – that is, for an entire decade – Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince has dedicated himself to a comprehensive project that has long shined brighter than his other releases and which is now reaching a tentative artistic peak with Garden Gaia. After the album Elements of Light in 2012, which was recorded with The Bell Laboratory, came Conference of Trees in 2020, this time as a solo venture. What unites these three albums is that Pantha du Prince has dedicated them to theme of “humans as nature” – in the sense that humans unfold and flow out of their surroundings as bodies.
Pantha du Prince: “There are scientists who say that we humans are ocean that’s been folded together. My music is about raising consciousness, about describing the reality of life and the lost paradise through the means of music. It’s about entering a free space and developing a maximum degree of openness and sensitivity to our bodies – to our mental states and the atmosphere that surrounds us. It’s about mindfulness and a high level of awareness towards what’s happening around and within us. I’ve poured all of these experiences into Garden Gaia as music. And that’s to be taken in the literal sense of ‘pouring,’ since we belong to a flowing process on this planet. A tree also flows into the air, just as it’s connected to other trees beneath the ground through currents of communication. Our lungs flow into our bodies. And as embryos, we were flowing beings. The question is: to what extent can we adult humans continue to flow?”
That said, Pantha du Prince doesn’t make music as a provocation. His tracks are founded upon the principle of empathy and the willingness to change the system within us. It’s not about limitless growth or accumulation or overexploiting resources (including our own) but about a productive emergence as an individual in the current of the world.
If we look at the fallen world around us that is tearing up at the seams or at war or the destruction of nature, at the increasingly toxic personal relationships between people, then we realize that the music of Pantha du Prince possesses revolutionary potential because it brings peace. It’s not by chance that the album’s title refers to the mighty and wild goddess Gaia, who personifies the Earth and is one of the highest deities in Greek mythology.
For the nine new tracks on Garden Gaia, Pantha du Prince has again expanded his musical vocabulary of electroacoustic expression in a creative process that is extremely collaborative. Absurdly, these collaborations with musicians living far apart were in part inhibited by the pandemic restrictions during the winter: Pantha du Prince sent finished tracks from his own cocoon to musician friends all over the world and was open to their contributions.
Pantha du Prince: “the provocative, the opinionated, and the sense of authority that says ‘I know what’s best’ is something I wanted to do away with on Garden Gaia. Just as a garden wants to grow towards the highest level of prosperity and fertility, I as an artist try to just let things happen, to let them be. If we observe carefully, we can let a lot of energy from others flow into our work. The outcome is a different kind of art, a different kind of music.”
In “Golden Galactic,” the album’s first single, Pantha du Prince delineates a golden shimmer that’s like a primordial substance for life – the desire to live: “I recorded ‘Golden Galactic’ during a really special moment. I was awake and this golden shimmer slipped through my fingers and turned into sound. I kept playing and playing on a synthesizer while listening to myself play. Then I listened to this music with Friedrich Paravicini. Afterwards, he composed strings for it – it’s like a musical dialogue.”
Many of the new tracks are based on such “captured moments,” on first takes like the “golden shimmer” that drew Pantha du Prince into his own music. For example, the track “Blume,” which is German for “flower,” received its final polish through a conscious act of letting go. Pantha du Prince sent what was for him a finished track to Bendik Hovik Kjeldsberg in Oslo, who then intervened and rearranged everything. And it was Kieldsberg’s idea to have Helena Tusvik Rosenlund sing an additional track over Hendrik Weber’s reverberated vocals.
Pantha du Prince: “In English you can also hear the German word ‘Blume’ as ‘bloom,’ that is, as a process of growing, blossoming, and the cyclical nature of developing oneself. When a flower blossoms, its withering is an inherent part of the process. And that’s why the nine new tracks also have a sense of melancholy to them – they have an awareness that beauty is fleeting. ‘Blume’ is about a dream landscape, a parallel reality, a possible space into which we can dive into: we dream but then later forget what we dreamt. What remains is perhaps a glimmer of hope, the knowledge that something was there.”
This explains why the pervasive melancholy in Pantha du Prince’s music always has something hopeful to it. On tracks like “Blume,” he allows for extremely fragile musical moods to simply exist and bolsters them with frequencies that seem to naturally communicate with us. This is also true of “Heaven is Where You Are” – according to Pantha du Prince, fulfillment, peace, happiness, and paradise can always be found wherever you happen to be. All the utopian qualities of dreams exist inside the individual.
None of the tracks on Garden Gaia were recorded with the exact same lineup. He collaborated with different musicians in different places on every track. That Garden Gaia is such an incredibly homogenous album despite the diversity has to do with the fact that Pantha du Prince has, to some extent, seen himself as an observer of what was created with others before his very own eyes. He just let a lot of things happen – as if he were watching a garden grow. If we follow this idea even further, then this garden is none other than the Garden of Eden, and the planet Earth is a manifestation of paradise.
Pantha du Prince: “In retrospect, there was something quite natural about the way the record was made. I’ve been continuously working on tracks since the release of Conference of Trees, and the concrete finetuning started in December 2021 – I was finished by the end of January. Everyone had some time on their hands. Whenever I sent out a track, I received a musical response within a few days, sometimes even on the same day. Homogeneity through diversity. On the Norther Hemisphere, this seems to work best in January when people have time – and when they long for spring and its natural, cyclical growth during the cold winter.”
Garden Gaia is the latest chapter in a project that has been ten years in the making, which presents the artist, Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince, as a close observer and mindful listener. It adds a new, forward-looking perspective to Pantha du Prince’s work, which began in 2004 with Diamond Daze, released on Dial Records.