Sunday, 23 June 2013

Gold Panda - Half Of Where You Live

Three years after 2010’s Lucky Shiner, and in particular its lo-fi centrepiece ‘Quitter’s Raga’, made him a Pitchfork fave, the British-born and German-based producer returns with his second album. As befits a musician whose greatest asset has always been his slightly uncomfortable sense of wanderlust, Half of Where You Live is a record about homes; or more specifically about the thought processes of someone who finds themselves on the edge of something, never quite able to put down roots.
In retrospect February’s excellent Trust EP serves as a primer for the Half of Where You Live’s stylistic diversity, see-sawing as it does between minimal, spacious techno sounds and glitchy space-bass. In recent interviews he admitted that originally he started making tracks for the record on Ableton but disappointed in the clinical nature of the resulting material he eventually returned to his old samplers – ‘S950’ is named after one such – to craft a record which explores and exploits the quirks and imperfections of his bank of samples.

From a technical standpoint Half of Where You Live is a beatsmith’s masterpiece; built upon a haze of diaphanous melodies and minimal beats. For an album that is almost entirely instrumental there’s a remarkable sense of being take on a journey. He’s spoken before about how touring Lucky Shiner allowed him access to the great cities of the world and it’s clear that his experiences travelling directly inform this record, flitting between the claustrophobic ‘Brazil’ and the homely ‘An English House’.

More importantly however Half of Where You Live also contains many of his strongest melodies to date, such as ‘Flinton’ which sees a curious Flying Lotus-esque sample chopped and twisted until it feels as if you’re being dragged down into watery depths or ‘The Most Liveable City’, which opens with a field recording of birds tweeting and could easily be read as Gold Panda’s ode to his childhood growing up in Peckham, where he grew up. Flickering along on skittering percussion and gentle celestial beats it bring to mind a more personal take on Burial’s enigmatic Untrue.

Perhaps Half of Where You Live doesn’t challenge the listener in the same way that the at times abrasive Lucky Shiner did but nonetheless it’s an immersive and engaging listen that sees Gold Panda expand his sonic palette whilst retaining the spark that made him special in the first place. For a glass half empty kind of a guy he’s got plenty to be proud of.


Max Sefton

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