Release Date: Jun 11, 2013
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Techno, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Experimental Techno
Part of the emotional appeal with electronic music is the expectation that certain checkpoints are achieved or perhaps teased out during a recognisable process. Electronica is adorned with stock musical patterns that evoke a predictable set of emotions aimed at intensifying a particular mood and the classic build up of sound and rhythm coupled with a cut away and subsequent return to the main motif with glorious assertion continues to raise dance floors and neck hairs alike. On Gold Panda’s sophomore full length, moments of predictability are rare.
On his 2010 debut, Lucky Shiner, Gold Panda presented a patchwork of electronic dance music genres, from breakbeat to glitch to dub to ambient, over a sprawling 47 minutes. The result was a strong, if somewhat disconnected, introduction to one of the most intriguing, assured beatmakers to emerge out of the U.K.'s crowded EDM scene. Due in part to its evocative song titles and sonic collage aesthetic, Gold Panda's follow-up, Half of Where You Live, plays like a travelogue of sorts, taking the disparate elements of Lucky Shiner and stitching them together into a unified whole.
We still don't know his name, but Gold Panda has made it easy for us to know him. The British producer's debut, 2010's Lucky Shiner, was an emotive tapestry of personal history, with textures that evoked imagery with a distinct personal glow. On his second album and first substantial release in three years, Half of Where You Live, Gold Panda shifts the focus from who he is to where he's been.
An often neglected aspect of music is its ability to create imaginary spaces. Either that or it is presupposed, but in either case, it is underappreciated. Half of Where You Live is an album about places and therefore about space. Gold Panda has said it was composed by his experience traveling, which he has been doing a lot of since his 2010 debut album, Lucky Shiner.
Berlin by way of Essex DJ/producer Gold Panda continues his exploration of soothing electronica and house beats on his second full-length album. Aside from a touch of vocal sampling (usually a single repeated phrase, for instance Sofia Kourtesis' looped voice saying "in this house" on "An English House"), the outing is quite similar to 2010's Lucky Shiner. The musical foundation tends to be built on warm, bubbly synth textures again, with the primary change being that Derwin's material tends to be a little more upbeat and world-oriented on this release.
Derwin Schlecker’s Gold Panda burst onto the scene in 2009 with ‘Quitter’s Raga’, following it up a year later with Lucky Shiner, a record whose idiosyncratic and instantly recognizable glitchy Eastern-infused sound that set him apart from the crowd and stormed end of year ‘best of’ lists. With its off-kilter nostalgic soundscapes, cluttered samples and clipped melodies, Lucky Shiner was oh so very contemporary whilst remaining chronologically ambiguous. In nodding quite heavily towards Axel Willner (The Field) and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), it inhabited a space between genres, and thus the question surrounding its follow up would be whether his distinct style could be carried forward whilst remaining ever so slightly off-trend.
Peckham born but Chelmsford, Essex raised, it took the composer/producer Derwin Schlecker, otherwise known as Gold Panda, until the relatively advanced age of 30 to release his first album, 2011’s widely praised Lucky Shiner. It may well be that this late entry into the music business was a blessing in disguise, as his life experience to date was richly expressed in what was one of the most intriguing, emotive electronica records of recent times. Rather like Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, Gold Panda stands out because he constructs music that relies heavily on samples and beats, yet still manages to retain a warm, organic heart.
Review Summary: “How do you feel emotionally today? Are you okay, or are you getting depressed?”Gold Panda’s music has always been reliable for the vivid images it conjures. Lucky Shiner kicked off Derwin Schlecker’s journey into electronic music by drawing sketches of life on the road, and exposing us to one foreign emotion after another. Tracks like “Same Dream China” directly combated our fuzzy concept of sunset itself, instead telling us that the experience is just as much about the darkness emerging as it is about the sunlight receding.
Recorded while he dog-sat for his aunt and uncle, this London producer's debut compacted the big sounds of techno, hip-hop and ambient into music so transfixing it could make a walk around the block seem like an adventure. The pace of his second LP is quicker, but the style is happily the same. Short samples of hand drums and string instruments ricochet around in the mix like pinballs; one-word vocal phrases like "Brazil" repeat till they sound like mantras.
Gold Panda's debut, Lucky Shiner, won him the Guardian First Album award, which might make that difficult second effort all the more of a challenge. Half of Where You Live opts for ambition, both zooming in on the details with meticulous production and taking a broad sweep in its search for influences. The result is a consistent collection of dreamy electronic music that aims to fold you up in its layered loops.
The style of UK producer Gold Panda has always been resplendent. The emphasis that Derwin Powers has placed on melody has been obvious since “Quitter’s Raga”. He places his melodic elements higher in the mix, and the rhythms they trek, his percussive elements follow. His self-professed love for more estoric samples fits neatly into this narrative; melody can produce the same type of nostalgia a recognized sample will.
Riding the tail of his brilliant Trust EP, Gold Panda's second full-length comes with expectations. Half of Where You Live is an exploration of new landscapes, of the subtleties and complexities of unfamiliar environments, setting itself up as a varied, collective second album offering. What stands out noticeably on Half of Where You Live, however, is the blandness of it all.
Artists can have it rough. They’re expected to be the voice of our next mood swing, the next time we think “Is she breaking up with me?” and the never ending, “What does it all mean?” The fact that music is an outlet for self-expression and not “my” expression tends to get lost in the discussion surrounding any particular album. That tension between individual and communal experience is even more heightened on the dance floor and in the world of electronic music.
‘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.