Is Pantha du Prince's Hendrik Weber unpredictable? Count on it. How do you peg a mercurial German producer who's been content to spend the last few years collaborating with Norway's chime-centric Bell Laboratory? For fans waiting on a follow-up to 2010's critically acclaimed Black Noise, the move has left more than a few asking, "Was der fick?"
But it turns out dragging a 50-bell carillon around the globe inspired the minimalist techno composer to give his solo project an overhaul. Villa Aurora, an exclusive Los Angeles/Berlin-based artists' retreat (which up to now only accepted writers and filmmakers) recently lifted the gate and let Weber — the first modern musician — in. This helped him create "The Triad" with guitarist Scott Mou (Jane, Queens) and drummer Bendik Hovik Kjeldsberg (Bell Laboratory).
Their current seven-date micro-tour of the U.S. is the trio's first shot at revamping the music of Pantha du Prince. Game plan: Inject electro-heavy tunes with more organic elements. Recently, the Triad kicked off their tour at San Diego's Casbah with a 70-minute set of improvised and reworked jams. SPIN sat down with Weber in the club's back bar to discuss the new project.
What is the Triad?
We're still in the "finding the organism" mode. But I've been playing with Bendik in Bell Laboratory for two years now. Scott is the guy who first brought me to the U.S. We've been friends a long time and always wanted to collaborate. This is the test phase. It's prep for a new album to be released some time next year.
Why not go back to solo?
The Bell Laboratory is ten, six on stage. With the Triad, I wanted to have a format that was easy to travel. Also, keep the vibe of this "live alive" electric/acoustic organism I've always been into. From the beginning, it's been about the intertwining of real, hyper-real, and artificial — a layering of information from different sources. The Triad's a way to go back to the Pantha stuff, but also keep the development from Bell Lab.
Are you looking to open up Pantha?
Yes. But for me, it's all an open format. It's a magnetic field. You start with something like Black Noise and a story unfolds. It got me thinking a lot about the concept of the tri — geometric form at its most simple. Not only is it the most energetic set-up, it follows the whole concept that I'm working on right now. It's the philosophical background of the new album.
The Triad is taking on all kinds of meanings.
It's a continuous thing. Sometimes it's a concrete and simple picture, but it also has many layers, perspectives, and processes of movement inside. I also think we're in a twist of ages. So it makes perfect sense for me to try something new.
Isn't that just a part of being a German electronic artist?
It's our history. What I do definitely comes from bands like Kraftwerk. It's that same idea of being German, but trying to deny it at the same time by trying something different. It's the paradox situation of trying something new and not trying to match the Anglo-American rock world. The thinking is there. They're part of the family.
What can you tell us about Villa Aurora?
It's also part of the history of the country. It was founded by a couple of Jewish, socialist artists who were forced to flee the country. They found the house and stayed there until they died. It's a beautiful place and totally fits within the theme of what I'm doing. I mean, Aldous Huxley's house is around the corner. It's just fascinating to create there.
Is it true that you are the first modern musician allowed to stay there?
I'm the first one. They were trying to push the program in a different direction, I think. It's the reason we're on tour right now. Without them, we wouldn't be.
It all seems part of the process.
I try to unify themes. Information contains something you give it when you act as the creator and filter. It's always been important to me to have a complete picture. I think that interesting music always has an interesting background.
How far are you into Villa Aurora's three-month residency?
Just starting. Three weeks in.
So two-thirds of it will be working out what you get from the seven days of shows?
Then Bell Lab for the rest of the year and Pantha in 2015?
Yes, but you never know. New things can always come into existence. This is just one step. There were probably 20 before it and 20 to come after. But hopefully people will see the final shows next year and they'll know where it came from.