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 the aptly titled ‘We Work Nights’, there certainly are instances indicative of the sounds heard spilling out of night spots all over the world with easy, accessible beats and musical language that everyone understands. Consider the rest of the song, and album, a well narrated story.
On Half Of Where You Live, Gold Panda runs the entire spectrum of electronic music with a celebration of glitchy, uplifting randomness on ‘Most Liveable City’ to more morose offerings. The secret of its success lies in the conceptual elements of the record; inspired by places and memories, each track excels at capturing the spirit and humanness of a particular latitude. Based largely on minimal production, tracks like ‘S950′ sound as if they were composed with a musical node app and a few random swipes of the finger, but this is hardly the point. We’re in an age where everyone can make music but few still can make music count. Panda has proven that he deserves to be noticed.
Somehow, Half of Where You Live goes beyond beats, samples, loops and waveforms. On this particular journey, Gold Panda is part storyteller and part electronic folk hero. Using Asian-inspired tones, he easily affects the imagination and generates vivid pictures of the places he wants us to visit. ’My Father in Hong Kong 1961′ places us squarely in a confused and wandering state with cinematic type chimes and drones that capture the ambient feel of a crowded street all from the fuzzy perspective of a dream. Seemingly without form, the track does a beautiful job of disorienting the senses but quickly slips away into nothingness leaving behind a trance like state. This is quickly broken by the crispness of the bass drum in ‘Community’ which serves to re-introduce us to the more normal happenings of our neighbourhoods.
Half of Where You Live is a slightly different animal than its predecessor Lucky Shiner, which shares the Asian inspired soundscapes, but appears happy to stay in a more predictable climate. The London-born producer dabbles with lo-fi titbits in ‘Enoshima’ and the opener ‘Junk City II’, all the while mixing in crisp, clear production alongside. At times, repetitions allow for particular patterns to be forever etched in stone as is the case with extremely contagious chant of ‘Brazil’ or the more seductive slant on ‘An English House’.
It’s what all good storytellers do; ignore convention and instead use a multitude of devices in the right places at the right times to convey emotion. Though, on the surface, the tracks on this record are as different as the locations to which they refer, they’re a part of the whole that make up the story about Half of Where You Live.