- It's now been over two years since Pantha du Prince released his crossover gem of bell-strewn nocturnes on Rough Trade, Black Noise, and it's beginning to feel like the follow-up may still be a way off. Perhaps in an effort to tide listeners over for that next LP, Hendrik Weber has now returned to longtime home Dial Records for a collaborative side-project as Ursprung. An effort between Weber and Stephan Abry—who worked with Weber on previous albums—their self-titled debut began in a series of wintry sessions in the Alps last year. Building upon the textural chimes Weber has founded his name on since his 2004 debut, Diamond Daze, the two emphasize the guitar on Urpsrung, crafting a contemplative, soft-night soundtrack that reaches back to the Gottsching-led Krautrock of the mid-'70s, the parched summer sounds of peak-era Durutti Column and even the expansive experimental froth of early '00s post-rock.
Though the record at times leans toward Pantha du Prince's slowly evolving, dewy-eyed sense of melody, Urpsrung is without question Weber's most experimental and evasive work to date. Often there's the sense that Weber and Abry were perfectly contented with the roughened, unfinished sketches of Krautrock's past—the joy of the studio trek—instead of the coherent and often almost painstaking sense of patterning we've come to expect from Pantha du Prince records. "Ohne Worte," for example, begins in slowly ringing guitar tones before those sounds meander and stretch across one another above pattering, knock-in-the-night beats, all in gentle acceleration against pinging synth tones. "Seiland," meanwhile, is founded upon the kind of shimmery guitar work the sorely-missed Studio were known for, detuned here for rhythm or melodic focus and left to scatter in uneven strikes across the track's earthy, dubby bass throb. Elsewhere, "In Aufruhr" is breezier, with pebble-strike tones opening into breezy pads and open handed guitar work that almost resembles a Broken Social Scene track, while "Nightbirds" blends warbly synths with distant, tumbling guitar, sounding like a bubble just cresting the surface of some cold, dark pond.
Amongst these sonic detours, however, are a few long-form creations that reach back to the kind of pastoral beauty and compositional precision of earlier PdP work. Arguably the most successful of these—and as an opener it's therefore kind of misleading—is "Mummenschanz." Beginning with shards of guitar and sticky, static-marred bass tones, Weber and Abry nimbly shape the tune into song beside PdP's patented bell sounds and a hive of fuzzy drones. As its machine drums shake around the edges, the drones forge the track's central melody in contrast with the chimes, forming a kind of gorgeous, sleep dumb alarm for the first light of day. "Exodus Now" is a bit more diffuse without losing any of "Mummenschanz"'s grace, its industrial noises, wheezing drone and bumpy rhythms refusing to coalesce until another of those clattering bell melodies emerge from its hissy murk. These tracks lend sense and purpose to some of Urpsrung's meanderings. Hopefully, they'll also serve to curb the appetite for those beginning to crave Weber's next set of glittering techno-etudes.
02. Ohne Worte
04. Exodus Now
07. In Aufruhr
09. Kalte Eiche
10. Am Buachaille