Having recorded his first album whilst working day jobs in record shops and adult bookstores, London-born producer Gold Panda has certainly made a valiant effort to escape such humdrum surroundings for his follow-up, Half Of Where You Live.
Inspired by several globe-trotting adventures he’s embarked on since the release of 2010’s critically-acclaimed Lucky Shiner, the 32-year-old has created something of a musical travelogue by imbuing his signature blend of 808 beats, washed-out synths and pitch-shifted melodies with the sounds of everything from the Peruvian jungle (“The Most Liveable City”) to the night-time hustle and bustle of the Orient (“Junk City II”).
But while the gorgeously woozy lullaby of “S950,” kaleidoscopic house of “Community” and ethereal chillwave of “Enoshima” present a summer-y carefree façade, Half Of Where You Live doesn’t shy away from the harsher realities of his journey, either.
The chaotic carnival-esque fusion of woodblocks, harps and repetitive samples on “Brazil” has been described by Gold Panda as “an attempt to reflect the sensation of seeing the disparity between the old and new economically prosperous South American nation.”
Elsewhere, the hazy blissed-out finale of “Reprise,” the only track to feature any real vocal presence, recaptures the sense of loneliness at being away from his loved ones with its melancholic refrain of “if you knew how much I missed you.”
When Gold Panda does return to his homeland, the results are no less impressive, from the underwater synths and fluttering flutes that surround the ambient Chicago house of “An English House” to the string-soaked glitchy IDM named after the tiny Yorkshire village of Flinton.
Admittedly, the deliberate attempt to produce a “bad Westerner version of Asian music,” “My Father In Hong Kong 1961” feels like too much of an in-joke. But on the whole, Half Of Where You Live is a captivating, if often disorientating, voyage around the world which suggests Gold Panda should start booking his plane tickets in preparation for album number three.