It's easy to dance to Pantha Du Prince's music, but it's hard to find the right moves.
Tuesday night at U St. Music Hall the German producer - real name Hendrick Weber - performed to an audience that tried hard to shake a leg, but frequently wound up wiggling its knees. Or worse. Some bobbed like buoys. Others improvised a kind of Earth-bound breaststroke. Everybody looked pretty silly.
That's not a knock on Weber's music, though; it's just the style of motion that his songs evoke.
Where most dance music relies heavily on the sharp tick-tock of kick and snare drum sounds, Weber's productions have kind of liquid quality. The songs on his new album, "Black Noise," dissolve tension, rather than generate it - sanding the snap off of the drums, in favor of round, spacey sounds and ethereal bell tones. It's a bit like listening to somebody dribbling a basketball in a gymnasium full of wind chimes.
Dressed head-to-toe in black, looking like a weekend-Sith Lord, Weber used a laptop and a table full of gizmos to generate two-hours of steady, streaming pulse.
Weber's roots are in minimal techno - a kind of brainy, rigorous, and endlessly repetitive style of European club music - but recently he's found a larger audience among fans of indie-rock. It's not hard to hear why. Unlike his more austere brethren, Weber is willing to sweeten things up with loopy melodies, sweeping crescendos, and the odd star cameo (Animal Collective's Panda Bear recorded the vocal for "Stick to My Side," which closed the set).
And at two-hours, those stylistic caveats were necessary to keep the set from getting tedious. Songs flowed steadily from low hum to high drama, ultimately breaking into a hail of electronic of percussion. But more often than not, this was music that bubbled more than it banged.
--Aaron Leitko, June 2010