Gold Panda - Half Of Where You Live

A wonderfully vivid follow up from a producer at the top of his game.

Label: Wichita

Rating: 8

‘Half Of Where You Live’ is something of a sonic travelogue. The eleven songs collected on Gold Panda’s second album are an exploration of distinct moods, feelings and evocations through sound; the result of feelings and desires forged through the experience of travel and different cities and environment’s innate ability to enthral.

While his debut, 2011’s ‘Lucky Shiner’, established the producer as one of electronic music’s brightest and most progressive talents the follow up is not a mere repeat of that album’s style. The ethos of experimentation and a dizzying capacity to surprise is still there but this time there’s a more stripped back and pure quality to it. It’s a looser, more blissful album.

Superfluous sonic embellishments are eschewed, and the glorious, pure sounds of the Roland 808 drum machine feature prominently throughout. There’s a satisfying clarity of sound at work here that allows the depth of feeling in these songs to pour through.

Gold Panda is something of a nomadic character. Always restless and on the move, the producer sought inspiration for much of these tracks while spending time in cities in Japan and around the world, each with their own burgeoning musical cultures. The eastern influence is prevalent in the sounds and rhythms that adorn many of these tracks, ‘Junk City 11’ is a dazzling conflation of kick drums with a hypnotic keyboard line that is wonderfully alluring. What’s so impressive is the level of depth in these songs. The music is almost constantly bewitching.

The dynamic between the summery euphoria of tracks like ‘Community’ and the samples of ‘We Work Night’s’ offer a perfect contrast with the more sedate and reflective fluttering house melodies of ‘An English House’ as well as ‘My Father In Hong Kong 1961’’s gentle twinkling lullaby. It takes a skilled producer indeed to conjure up so much depth of feeling as Gold Panda does here.

While his travels provide the inspiration and framework for the album, the execution of the melodies and rhythms provide the substance. Echoing the social and cultural atmospheres of the cities in which they were first conceived, almost every song inhabits its own distinct environment. Album highlight ‘Brazil’’s stuttering beats and insistent pulse perfectly captures the heady spirit of exploration and discovery that ripples through these electronic songs. Richly detailed and supremely defined, ‘Half Of Where You Live’ is a wonderfully vivid follow up from a producer at the top of his game.