Thursday Playlist: My latest enthusiasms

Two songs by Pantha du Prince, a book by Carl Wilson, and an Italian you tube video.


Follow this link to a site where you can stream the whole album. But for the purpose of this post, just play track #1 “Lay in a Shimmer” and track #9 “Welt am Draht.”

I had never heard of Pantha Du Prince until a few weeks ago. He is apparently a well-regarded German techno producer named Hendrik Weber who made the internet news when it was leaked he was going to be working with Panda Bear (from Animal Collective) on one of Pantha's new tracks. Like the dutiful pitchfork reader I am, I studied the album review when it appeared and listened to the songs for free in the LaLa-provided music box. I had the good fortune of being at work where my computer's desktop speakers are boosted with a sizeable subwoofer. This made all the difference.

I realized this music appealed to me. Although the Panda Bear collaboration track wasn't really that great. Still, I went home and downloaded the album from Amazon and after a few full listens I was only listening to two of the tracks–1 and 9–and doing so a couple times a day for a few weeks or so. I'd play tracks 1 and 9 (obviously my most favorite tracks) trying to understand them, realizing there was something very complicated going on here. It took me several listens to establish basic structures and patterns. And I noticed I would start to feel eager about certain appealing sections of the songs. I started to play the two songs back to back and try to understand how very similar songs accomplish a very different effect. Which one do I like more? (Spoiler: it's track 1 (but why?)).

Here are the things I love about these songs: the novelty of all those lush woodblocks clip-clopping out a rhythm. The wall of vibrational sound that comes and goes (please listen with a subwoofer). That these songs undergo a lot of shape-shifting. That there's a melody. That each of these songs eventually settle into a really cool galloping groove for a minute or so. That there are strange outer space sounds that come and go on the edges. And hand claps, of course. The whispery choral sounds. And the difficulty in identifying the mood of these songs. This is part of my job, assigning an affect, but I feel perplexed. Do I hear hopefulness? Worry? Confidence? Exhilaration? Something detached from emotion? All of them I guess. I still don't quite know.


The book Let's Talk About Love is part of the 33 1/3 series (that our dear Bryan Waterman will be writing for later this year). Carl Wilson's book was published over two years ago so I'm a little late to the party. Oh well. This is not really a book about Celine Dion as much as it's an extraordinary book about judgement, taste, aesthetics and what it means to be “cool.” I was aware of it, and knew that people liked it, but didn't decide to finally read it till I saw it on the London Times best 100 books of the Aughts list. It's only 161 pages. Go read it, you'll thank me.

And speaking of thank me. That's what Trixie said when she forwarded me this youtube recently. Actually, she said, “you're welcome.” And in light of Swell's recent confessional about her fabulous taste in music, this fits right in. God, what I'd give to see this in color. Apparently this clip went viral in 2008 or so, but it never crossed my screen until now. And, thank you Adriano Celentano, I can't stop playing it.

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12 responses to “Thursday Playlist: My latest enthusiasms”

  1. Ess to the Gee says:

    I especially love the lyric from the video: “This is what it’s like to be a sexy hobo; you can touch-a my bottom; you can touch-a by bottom…all right!”

  2. Rachel says:

    My day: MADE. Thanks, ff.

  3. Tim says:

    I’m having a really nice time listening to those two Pantha du Prince tracks, enhanced mightily by your descriptions of them. Thanks for bringing out the weird emotional tensions in them both. The second one’s title translates literally as “World at the Wire,” but I’m not sure if the German roughly means “on a wire,” as in walking on a wire, or “at the wire,” as in crossing a finish line. Swells, can you help us out on that one? In either translation, though, there’s a great deal of ambiguity and ambivalence. Love it.

    Also, here’s a different video of that song (although not all of it is included). Looks like something from the Italian Flip Wilson show. Dig the colorful outfits and the kinda creepy teacher-student sexual tension.

  4. swells says:

    I believe “am Dracht” would mean “on a wire,” although prepositions can be challenging for me, so I can’t swear by it.

    We can’t get enough of that video at our house, either! It’s like Trixie erased every other song we ever knew.

  5. trixie says:

    i was just telling farrell that it’s a strange feeling to have him write about music that i don’t already know/love (or hate)…(i’m looking at you, stephen malkmus)…
    the pantha du prince record is one of the first times where farrell has played something for me (we might not have record club but we have record club, if you know what i’m saying…) that i didn’t have a feeling about right away.
    he played me these tracks, and honestly i didn’t think much of them. i think the reason for that was that i was across the room in the kitchen, cooking something, talking with william, etc.
    now, sitting in front of the subwoofer and desktop speakers, this music is opening up to me in an unexpected and delightful way.
    so thanks, love. nice sounds.

  6. Jeremy says:


    As in Awesome.

    (I wish I could be sitting in your kitchen right now, listening to this entire album while we drink beers and eat sushi. Sigh.)

  7. lane says:

    i’m glad you’re still such an obsessive music fan. i feel badly about losing that conversation with so many of my friends.

    but i just love all the new delivery systems, other people’s i pods, wfmu archives, pandora, on and on.

    i’m still a huge music consumer, lover, needer. i just can’t follow the minutia.

    i really liked your last mixmas by the way, can’t remember and specifics, but i remember thinking “tell these guys this is really good.” so there you go . . .

  8. farrell fawcett says:

    Hey Lane, thanks. I’m glad you liked the mixmas. Our musical tastes often aligned quite well. And speaking of taste, the Carl Wilson book made me think of a number of conversations we had long ago about taste, cool, music, etc. If you didn’t read it, it’s definitely right up your alley. Also, if you didn’t download last year’s music for late summer nights, I imagined you and A enjoying it with guests lit up or something on your roof deck.

    Also, where is the post called Thursday playlist: Lane’s latest enthusiasms?

  9. Rogan says:

    8. The mixmas is still getting plenty of rotation over here… in fact I made a few changes and tried to pawn it off as my own mix, someplace else. Instant cachet!

  10. lane says:

    i recently bought like 18 steely dan songs.

    i’ve come to realize i was like the most jewish kid in ogden utah.

    Steely Dan! Jewish Jazz!

  11. Dave says:

    I just wanted to second or third the plug for the Carl Wilson book.

  12. lane says:

    oh and trent’s archive on wfmu, at the very end of it all, trent is my last wfmu radio crush.

    . . . until the next one comes along.