As with all pandas, this one has kept things relatively docile for the past couple years – only briefly emerging from his den to drop a DJ-Kicks and two singles – but now that he’s had time to gorge on the stalky goodness of recording we’re finally treated to his first LP since 2010’s delightful Lucky Shiner. And wouldn’t you know it, this new one’s littered with zesty little thumpers as well.
What made Gold Panda’s previous endeavors so enjoyable was his knack for rolling out succinct catchy loops in way that was undeniably repetitive but in no way monotonous. It’s a prized technique and one that he’s carried with him to Half of Where You Live, only now there’s a new darker element in the broth, bass. While Lucky Shiner is certainly beat driven its focus was always on the high notes, whereas this latest album takes the time to explore the musical substrata, adding substantial weight to the tracks. This new sonic identity relates more to Ramadanman or Four Tet’s recent releases as the LP flirts with house and techno pretty consistently. In similar style to the latter of the two aforementioned, Gold Panda has descended from the folkish warmth of the treehouse and into the subsonic draw of the club.
Yet despite the additional dance elements, Half of Where You Live still sounds unequivocally Gold Panda. All the colourful innocence that defines his sound is still layered on top like pristine white icing on a murky black forest gâteaux. You’re never too far away from a chime or an oriental carillon. In fact one striking aspect of GP’s recordings is that he’s still hugely influenced by his stay in Japan. There’s subtle little hat tips to the East scattered around almost all the tracks but none more so than on ‘Junk City II’ and ‘My Father in Hong Kong 1961’. On top of that the track titles suggest a touch of wanderlust with references to ‘Enoshima’, the British town of ‘Flinton’, and the album’s clear highlight ‘Brazil’, making the record come across as a sort of club lovers travel guide for all ends of the planet. Whether intentional or not, this album’s perfect for train journeys. The persistently jabby thuds compliment a locomotive’s ebb and flow perfectly, while the exotic samples are just asking to be accompanied by an unveiling landscape.