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Gold Panda

Lucky Shiner

(Ghostly International; US: 12 Oct 2010)

Ever since Burial unleashed Untrue into the ears of those who knew nothing about dubstep, much less it’s many incarnations, there has been a delightful explosion of broken beauty in the electronic beats emanating from London-town. Many have attempted to imitate the musical and emotional depth achieved by Burial, but few have developed an aesthetic that reflects Burial’s but is wholly their own. Now, to say London producer Gold Panda is a direct progenitor of Burial’s UK garage inflected dubstep would be naïve, but what Gold Panda has achieved on his debut LP for Ghostly International is nearly as captivating, nuanced, and realized.


It’s been just over a year since Gold Panda stood dubstep critics and fans on their heads with his gorgeous, withholding song “Quitter’s Raga”. Clocking in at just under two minutes, “Quitter’s Raga” displayed Gold Panda’s masterful sampling technique as well as his love for Japanese and Southeast Asian music and culture. Building the track around the majestic sounds of the Japanese koto, the song skips and jumps, edging closer and closer to breaking a part, but ends before it can. The beat structure in “Quitter’s Raga” recalls dubstep’s swing as it eases into a half-time progression, but Gold Panda has refrained from keeping this structure in his latest work, and to great affect.


Lucky Shiner (the affectionate nickname for Gold Panda’s grandmother) is Gold Panda’s first full-length LP, and succeeds with an arresting and astonishing collection of sounds, imaginary places, heartache, and celebration. Recorded at his Aunt and Uncle’s rural cottage in Essex, Gold Panda spent two weeks alone, walking their dogs and marinating in a vision of melody and song structure that could be both personal and inviting.


From the track’s opener “You” to the album’s closer, (also titled “You.”), the record is bookended by immediacy and intimacy, but travels through genre, place, and time through out the middle. Songs like “Same Dream China”, or “I’m With You But I’m Lonely” use sounds that manage to conjure a vintage, nostalgic vibe with out being heartsick; a xylophone, a Chinese zheng, a cheap Casio from your grandmother.


The strength of the record warrants every track a thorough listen, but it’s songs like “Snow & Taxis” and “India Lately” that are the glue that holds the record together. Each song has expert structure, shimmering melodies, and enough drums and bass to put these songs in the club. It’s safe to say Gold Panda has quickly placed himself in a 2010 roster of excellent records, next to Four Tet, Caribou, and Delorean, all artists who already have a depth to their musical catalogs. I only hope Gold Panda won’t get lost in these comparisons, as his productions confidently stand on their own.

Rating:

Cutting my teeth in the blog underground covering dance music from around the world, my love for Pop will be on display here at PopMatters, though always with an affectionate nod to my love for underground music. My work can also be found as a DJ, where my latest musical loves are also on display. I DJ as "The Crooked Clef", and my mixes have been featured on such venerable music/cultural spaces like The New Yorker and The Atlantic. I'm partial to beats, 808's, claps, synths, high-hats, and poly-rhythms.


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24 Feb 2013
Ghostly have been haunting our record collections with an increasing frequency lately. They seem to be signing more and more artists who like to take risks with electronic music and, fortunately for them, these risks seem to routinely pay off.
By PopMatters Staff
15 May 2012
Ghostly International is putting out Gold Panda's latest single "Mountain" b/w "Financial District" today and both tunes are available to stream online. The physical 7-inch single (limited to 1,200 copies) will hit record shops on 12 June and you can pre-order it over at Ghostly's website.
17 Nov 2011
Not many DJ mixes warrant the term "essential listening". This one does.
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