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A Magazine for Sheffield

Half Of Where You Live

Writing this review on the day a certain helmet-wearing French duo have finally made their much-hyped new album available for public listening, it’s hard to shake the feeling that, through various bells, whistles, teasers and Nile Rodgers BBC4 retrospectives, ‘The Album: The Piece of Music’ is often usurped by ‘The Album: The Media Event’. To clarify, the helmeted Frenchmen of the opening line are Daft Punk, not some of the more musically-minded infantrymen of La Grande Armée returning with the follow-up to their popular 1813 breakthrough, ‘Versailles: The Limit’.

This year has seen both Daft Punk and Boards of Canada succeed where SARS failed, going truly viral across the globe courtesy of well-engineered PR campaigns. While I’ve only given the former a cursory listen and am yet to hear the latter, I’d be willing to bet that, despite the comparative lack of bluster and fanfare, Gold Panda’s follow-up record, Half Of Where You Live, is better than the both of them. Now please excuse me while I relocate to a cowering position as a mob of militant Boards of Canada die-hards firebomb my living room.

That previous statement may very well, of course, be nowhere near the shocking, anarchistic bombshell I secretly hoped it would be. Anyone who laid ears on the Berlin-via-Essex producer’s 2010 debut Lucky Shiner will be more than aware of the impeccable song construction skills he possesses, so it should come as little surprise that, in the three years since, his work has only become more refined. Opening track ‘Junk City II’ bursts out as if an M25 rave has parked up in the garden of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, punching out electric piano stabs with such a distinctly Oriental twist that it’s only the accompanying haze of kicks and snares that will keep you from thinking you’ve accidentally wandered in to a Japanese boxercise class.

Removing the opening indefinite article from the title of ‘An English House’ gives you a better idea of the song in question, much more closely aligned with the euphoric underground sound of the nation’s dancefloors than the neatened hedgerows of a semi-detached in Woking. ‘Brazil’ and ‘Community’ are nonchalantly captivating, ‘My Father In Hong Kong 1961’ and ‘S950’ seek solace in a room that seems to contain little but chimes, a sun-lit freshwater pool and a bucketful of tape hiss (also splashed liberally over the rest of the album), before ‘Reprise’ brings a suitably contemplative close to the record’s ambient-leaning latter half.

“We’re up all night ‘til the sun! We’re up all night to get some! We’re up all night for good fun! We’re up all night to get…” well nothing, actually, because pandas are notoriously sex averse, and this summer we’re fully on team GP, so bin the helmets and cue the bamboo at Edinburgh Zoo.