Multi-talented artist, producer, programmer and performer Gold (Derwin) Panda has traversed the globe in his lifetime giving him plenty to draw on for his second album, 'Half Of Where You Live'. Having started his journey in Peckham and gone via Essex, teaching in Japan and gigging across the continents, whilst battling episodes of depression and self-doubt in his time, Derwin now finds himself in relative contentment making music from his latest home in the affluent Berlin suburbs.
'Half Of Where You Live' is the follow up to his "surprisingly" successful debut album 'Lucky Shiner', a record that not only gave Gold Panda independent financial stability but one that more importantly cemented a self-belief in his own work and ever growing popularity. Having travelled the world playing his music, it is of little surprise that the world is heard through these 11 new tracks. And although Gold Panda may intentionally shy away from too many Japanese and Oriental sounds, not wishing to be labelled "gimmicky", there is still a thread that can be heard throughout the album that touches on far Eastern influences.
The split passages of the opening track 'Junk City II' followed by the mellower 'An English House' are a perfect example of how Eastern culture has influenced Derwin's work. The splashes of sound that are dropped in and out add a beautiful, coherent balance to the beats and rhythms that underscore each track. The lightness and delicacy of the accessorisation contrast superbly with the depth of percussion and the resultant sound is anything but gimmicky. 'My Father In Hong Kong 1961' is similarly effective. The track not only sounds like a portrait or photograph title but serves to act as its musical equivalent. The cinematic score is a brilliant subtle blend akin to that of Sylvian and Sakamoto. Its simple, stripped back grace has an air of elegance and tranquility.
The album is awash with layers and it has many fascinating dimensions that give themselves up over time. There are harder driven, dance oriented tracks that work well on developing and enhancing the looped beats and synth chords. 'Community' and the acute and slightly awkward accents of 'We Work Nights' whir and revolve into a heady mix that builds over time into an intriguing multi-layered musical soundscape. There are strings, pianos and handclaps aplenty. In fact, over the course of 'Half Of Where You Live', you are treated to a musical meze. The bass beats take you from a cavernous rumble on 'Enoshima' via Drum n' Bass kicks on 'The Most Livable City', right through to charming, delightful and uplifting high notes of 'S950'.
'Half Of Where You Live' is an album that works on many levels. You don't necessarily need to give it time because it has an immediacy that lets you in from the off; you can easily let it lose you and before you know it 50 minutes have seemingly flown by. If you choose to invest the time though HOWYL will not disappoint, it has a slow burn that gives up more each time you listen. Very nice indeed.
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