There is Hendrik Weber, and there is Pantha du Prince. They are not one and the same but rather each an embodiment of the other’s desires. On his March release, Conference of Trees, Weber invokes the shaman in search of mediation for two worlds not yet at odds, but in urgent need of an interpreter.
Damien Cummings asked Weber about his unique relationship with nature.
Your album was released over six months ago. Do you still feel connected to it?
Definitely. For me, this album especially feels like it’s frozen in time. Things have been changing so drastically recently and when I read the liner notes I wrote before it all, it is almost like the trees foretold me that something dire was coming. It’s not like it was a concrete premonition but more of a hint. We have to listen to nature now more than ever. The album is a way to emphasise those questions of how we look at the world.
Where are the hints and how do we find them?
If you open your senses, your imagination and your intuition then the hints can be very strong. For example, where I live it’s been so dry recently but as soon as there is rain you can go back into the forest and it is like pure happiness. You see it. You see our human condition in the plants. All these relations of matter and liquid are within us too. It is the same. You can be a scientist and gather the data or you can just look and you will understand that there is a certain stress in the ecosystem.
What is the record trying to achieve?
One of the main topics of this album is this question of how to provide life. For me, that outcome was the focus of this conference and I wanted to help put other people in tune with that – to bring people closer to that narration that is constantly going on around us that is a confluence of energies. I want to show people that we can read these signs, we can get information from these conferences that are going on around us if we are not so hypnotised by technology and our egocentric western selves.
Technology is a huge part of your music. How do you contend with that juxtaposition?
I have been surrounded by that paradox my entire life. When I was a child, I would climb up to the top of a mountain where beech trees that I loved would grow. I watched the buzzards and the hawks in the sky, and when I looked down, there was the Volkswagen factory. At the same time, I was playing music and going to clubs because I love techno. The world is fragmented and I have to admit, I love that because the two don’t have to be in opposition. These juxtapositions can be fruitful.
How can you express that musically?
I had the idea that I wanted to connect technology to these archaic ideas because they both make sense to me. I wanted to reflect on that but also to ask, ‘How can a tree perceive technology?’ It is just a tree, the only thing it can do is grow but I wanted to give a chance to interweave those two things and create resonance. The first part of the album is based on 432 Hz tuning – which is a natural overtone tuning – that is related to the mathematics of nature and the Fibonacci sequence. And I wanted to put a mirror up to that with the different tunings of techno on the later parts of the album. It is my own narration, full of my own entanglements with the world, and those frequencies represent that.
What can we learn from the trees?
I think the basic point for me is to show the tree as a symbol of life. A tree that connects the mother earth with the sky is a representation of nourishment, of enlightenment, and of communion. A tree is an allegorical thing, it is a point where people can meet, where they can share knowledge because trees are in constant conference. When one tree falls, the roots of its neighbours pull it back up. It is in constant communication with its community. The most happiness a human being can get is from helping other human beings and at some point, we lost track of that.