The mysterious and anonymous Prince of Denmark’s album 8, a massive box set of (you guessed it) eight vinyl records, was released by German techno label Giegling last December. As with any album dropped with no notice, it appeared as an object of both shock and awe. Giegling announced the album on their Facebook page with the quote “you will never have everything.” As a year has gone by since it’s unveiling, it’s become clear that there are multiple versions of this album floating around both the internet and physically with bonus tracks and differing versions of songs. I believe it’s safe to say that no album like it had ever been released and it’s since become the defining album of the current time period in terms of what electronic music as a whole can be and will become.
8 is an incredibly dense listen, not because of the length but because of the sound/aesthetic of the collection. One musical theme I noticed is that a lot of it sounds like it’s “searching” for something; that could be a personal experience or a universal experience. I once described Burial’s Untrue as a personal club record, and 8 as a club record about alienation and self-discovery, which I’ll discuss later. One interesting thing to note is how it’s sequenced, with it beginning in an almost formal manner like a play with a loopy intro affair. During the beginning, it’s more geared toward beats and less emphasis on melody. The melodies in turn don’t really reveal themselves until about halfway through the entire affair. The way I understand it is that 8 is a long-form journey into the interior of someone who feels alienated from society because the more they dive into their psyche, the more they discover their uniqueness and learn to embrace and reconcile what was once their fantasy with who they are then and there at that moment. In that sense, the album is immensely cathartic yet ends ambiguously, with no end to the imaginary character’s dilemma, but I think that’s the point: it represents us and is supposed to serve as an album by which we can project our own selves upon.
In the interview with RA about his mix as Traumprinz, the Prince says: “I like the idea of sehnsuchtsorte, a desirable place that only exists in our fantasy. It’s a way to keep away the sometimes unpleasant side of reality and to empower creativity, emotion, irrational behavior and imperfection–features that sometimes get little bit mistreated in these times that we live in, I think.” He also states that the idea behind his Prince of Denmark monicker is that the Prince is supposed to be “a man” aka grown-up. When he said what he did about sehnsuchtsorte, he’s discussing the place in the mind of the child Traumprinz; however, when we apply this idea to the Prince, we see that his inner self has reached breaking point (it’s a play on how the inner must become the outer per se). And that brings us back to 8.
I do often feel “alienated” parallel to the music when listening to the album. As the music goes on and the pads and melody become more apparent and the beats become less important to the forward lurch of the album, I feel as if it’s suddenly become a more internal and personal statement. It’s very bittersweet at times. When I hear the song “Peace” it sounds like a campfire is going subtly in the background, maybe just behind the record static but it’s there for sure. Maybe it’s a memory where the author thinks back to a moment where he felt like he was himself, internal finally on the external, reaching peace with himself. “Pulsierendes Leben” is unsure, but ultimately hopeful, coming to terms with being who they want to be. I also feel like the album is sketching out the unsureness of adulthood and the path of aging we take once we’ve grown up to understand the non-innocence of the world. After “Pulsierendes”, the music takes a more muted, dubby approach again but this time it’s off from what it was. Maybe the character is reaching dawn, or maybe the end of their life is approaching and they’ve reached a balance. “88888888” feels very cosmic and open, which is very unlike the other songs on the record, it feels like the distance between the listener and the stars in the sky on a clear night in the desert. Once that’s over, “Untitled” sees us out as the credits roll, unsure of how this person will function in society once they’ve discovered what they are or maybe the end came and they’re at rest once again. Maybe it’s the end of a night out and there sun is up at last. For me, 8 is immensely personal: this is my declaration of adoration and a recognition of what may very well be the most important techno album since Y2K rolled around.