Gold Panda is one of those electronic artists that really justifies the use of the term ‘Intelligent Dance Music‘, if you want to put the sound in a box. From the start of his new album Half Of Where You Live, with ‘Junk City II’, you get the canned 808 beats and pounding 4-floor that you can find throughout many electronic genres, but placed in a lurid bed of shifting soundscapes that pull it out of mainstream commercial clubland. This puts it firmly into the hands of disciples such as Four Tet, Bonobo and the Brainfeeder illuminati. It is ‘dance music’ in that you can move to it – and infectiously so – but there is also enough going on that the guys in strange hats with interesting beards standing at the back of the room will nod approvingly and marvel at the ‘world/ethno-urban timbral dexterity’ of tracks like ‘Brazil‘ and ‘multi-tiered aural perspectives’ of ‘Enoshima‘.
While his debut album, Lucky Shiner, told of his yearning to escape from Chelmsford to the exotic sound-worlds that became his signature, Half Of Where You Live is a journey out to the far reaches of the globe. The deeply meditative ‘My Father In Hong Kong’ takes you far east with spiralling hypnotic bell samples, and soft, ethereal synth pads before ‘Community’ explodes with its driving tribal beats and Indian tabla samples. The nocturnal synths of ‘We Work Nights’ bring you into the city, and for me this is a standout track on this album, sure to be dropped at more than a few summer house parties.
There are very few broad strokes in the production, with every tiny detail being scrutinised and perfected to create something very intricate – this music seems handcrafted. I would recommend listening on headphones the first time, as this album is very immersive, awash with tape hiss and vinyl clicks that give it a nostalgic tinge. Listen from start to finish and you’ll have one hell of a journey.