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High Llamas - Hey Panda

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Opened up by the delirious alchemy of contemporary pop music, Sean O’Hagan leaps back into life with High Llamas, with a set of killer tunes reflecting on dimensional levels how definitions change over time. Arranged by Sean and produced with mix collaborator Fryars to engage the eardrums in non-stop new possibilities, Hey Panda radiates optimism inspired by the joys and sorrows felt in former lifetimes and the diverse conundrums of today alike.


Hey Panda projects soulfully through an enervating abstract of today’s popular music; the sound of the Llamas’ stately melodies and expressive ditties laid open – blissfully shattered – with drums and vocals hitting different, burning sounds and contemporary production twists pulling the ear at every turn.

For the past few decades, High Llamas have trafficked in contemporary pop sounds directed toward the avant end of the spectrum as much as not. But here the message was clear. Llamas’ composer-in-residence Sean O’Hagan was determined to let go. Hey Panda does just that, with a set of tunes reflecting on multiple levels how definitions change over the course of a lifetime, radiating an optimism derived from the diverse conundrums of today. Eight years since their last release, the pop musical Here Come The Rattling Trees, High Llamas have reinvented themselves again, mixing their peerless harmonic voice with what Sean regards as the “extraordinarily good” production sounds of today on Hey Panda.


Hey Panda’s wide reach is aided by two co-writes from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, (who bonded with Sean over a shared love of gospel soul during writing sessions), guest vocals from Rae Morris and Sean’s daughter Livvy, production twists from Fryars and the stalwart, flexible presence of High Llamas. For all of its sense of departure, Hey Panda is a movement in the High Llamas oeuvre that’s been a long time in development. Aspects of soul music were addressed at the time of Can Cladders; similarly, aspects of electronic dance music were in the mix in the late 90s, around the time of Cold and Bouncy. But nothing up to now has refocused the music of High Llamas so completely. Sharing the impulse of late-period Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, with further inspiration from Steve Lacy, SZA, Sault, No Name and Ezra Collective, among many others, Sean O’Hagan and High Llamas are living joyfully in the new and the now, with Hey Panda.


1. Hey Panda
2. Fall Off the Mountain
3. Bade Amey
4. Sisters Friends (featuring Rae Morris)
5. How the Best Was Won (featuring Bonnie "Prince" Billy)
6. The Grade
7. Yoga Goat
8. Stone Cold Slow
9. Toriafan
10. Hungriest Man (featuring Bonnie "Prince" Billy)
11. The Water Moves
12. La Masse (featuring Fryars)

Released 29th March 2024

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High Llamas - Hey Panda

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