We were ready to swoon last night but what happened literally pushed me to come back and set it in writing. Seal it in the space created to chronicle our lives together as long as there were adventures to be had. This is worth remembering.
Having heard Elements of Light thanks to NPR’s First Listen back in January, I knew Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince plus more than fifty bells in a church could only mean we were in for something special, but as most things worth it in this life, this couldn’t be anticipated.
On this rainy (summer?) evening, Mr. Louis Baker from New Zealand set the candlelight mood with his songs about self-acceptance and love inside the West Park Church. He chatted us up and thanked us for being so kind, quiet and polite… (Something we later wished had vanished… dancing in churches it’s okay, America). To finish his set, Baker covered Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and Cheep had to hold her heart in place for it wanted to escape her and personally hug Louis… (Perhaps it’s that same thing that possessed me to go and talk to one of the Norwegian bell scientists and thank him profusely after the show).
Then… it began!
The six men started chiming into the church stage —in their lab technician-meets-butcher outfits— making sweet synchronized sounds with gold bells in hand. Meet Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory.
One by one they headed towards their instrument —laptop, drums, bell carillon, etc!— and slowly built the weird cloud we were to float on all night.
We wanted to dance, we shook the pews, we wanted to clap but there was no time to stop for breaks! Pantha mentioned in an interview he wanted people to experience the album as a whole and unintentionally, that was happening…. Except for when they walked around the church aisles ringing the bells, wrapping us in a force field, some warm magic circling us and when they reached the stage again we all broke into a clap and finally rose off of our seats in a jolly fit of woos, yesses and full body sighs. There was a collective “this can’t be it” thought that propelled them to give us more bell wizardry until we rose again to give the only thing we could back, a second ovation.
Dear Soul Scientists, we’ve been to many shows, but few have reminded us just how we love the act of people coming together to make something sweet happen, like this one. Thank you for a wonderful night, even if people held back and didn’t dance… Maybe we were all just too transfixed to move our legs and instead, we let the curtains do it for us. -Snail
We borrowed the beautiful illustration by John F. Malta from The New York magazine.