Wednesday 12 June 2013

Gold Panda - Half Of Where You Live

Gold Panda’s 2010 debut, ‘Lucky Shiner’, was a huge success – seemingly out of nowhere – that saw the young London producer touring globally for the following two years.  The result is a follow up album, cleverly entitled ‘Half Of Where You Live’, that is clearly inspired by his worldwide travels.

Most obvious is the use of ethnic sounding samples that are weaved together into intricate, minimalist electronic textures.  Opener Junk City II is influenced by the producer’s interest in Japanese culture with its combination of pentatonic melodies and industrial effects, whilst Brazil is clearly reflected in the polyrhythmic samba beats.  Elsewhere, the use of gongs, chimes, oriental strings and vocal samples characterise the overall pan-global flavour, neatly summed up in the appropriately titled Community

More subtle is the use of movement that encapsulates the feeling of travelling.  Whilst the tracks are mostly upbeat and heavily rhythmic, the minimalist structures allow for slow development over the course of each track.  The music is simultaneously moving at a swift pace and in apparent slow-motion, as if looking out of the window of a train or plane.  And just like visiting a foreign country, it’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed by both the tidal wash of sounds and the minutiae of the production.

This is a far less pop-focussed album than ‘Lucky Shiner’ and its prevalent single You (recently sampled by Charli XCX).  Instead, Gold Panda takes us on a serene journey.  It contains none of the stress and hardship of being on tour; rather, it replicates the feeling of calmly floating across an azure sea, or gliding under a cloudless sky.  ‘Half Of Where You Live’ does, however, stray a little too far into this Zen territory.  Whilst the tracks certainly have their charms, there’s a distinct lack of memorable melodic phrases and the variety of instruments cannot hide the absence of harmonic progression.  As such, the album is in danger of fading into the background.

Yet what it lacks in immediacy, it makes up for in overall mood.  For anyone after a tranquil break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, this is your album.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* An English House
* Brazil
* Community

Listen: 'Half Of Where You Live' is available now.