[album review] gold panda: lucky shiner

November 9, 2010

Album cover for Lucky Shiner by Gold Panda

Gold Panda: Lucky Shiner (Notown/Ghostly International, 2010)
11 tracks/eMusic credits [buy on eMusic] [buy on Boomkat]

Positioned (sonically speaking) somewhere between the cut-up sample-shuffling of Four Tet and the phase-shifted techno collage of The Field, with a dash of oriental flourish for good measure, Gold Panda‘s debut full-length Lucky Shiner splices the exotic and the homespun to create a cosy yet stimulating set.

A Peckham-born producer and remixer called Derwin, Gold Panda began making music three years ago, and was soon being tapped for remixes by the likes of Bloc Party, Little Boots and aforementioned kindred spirit The Field. The original compositions started coming through last year, starting with the skipping Indian tones of Quitters Raga, a statement of intent that put GP on many “ones to watch in 2010” lists.

Lucky Shiner, recorded in his aunt’s and uncle’s Essex home and named after his grandmother, is clearly a personal record, from the cosy vinyl crackle that sits beneath much of the music up. But its intimacy is a welcoming, not alienating, one.

The album eases in with midtempo duo You and Vanilla Minus, the latter conjuring a pleasing dream-state from its looped-sample melody line and nostalgic electro groove. After a pastoral interlude (Parents, featuring a recording of his grandmother), the album settles into a beats-driven middle section, alternating between dubstep (Same Dream China, Before We Talked) and techno (superlative single Snow & Taxis, Marriage) idioms.

I’m With You But Lonely and After We Talked expose GP’s self-acknowledged fascination with Japanese culture more plainly. The former captures the fusion of ancient and super-modern in that country’s culture, while the latter sounds like the soundtrack to a visit to a Ginza gadget store.

India Lately – a deep, hiss-laden evocation of the subcontinent’s spirit and energy (and an album highlight) – gives way to the final piece, a reconstructed You, a lyrical reminder of just who the album was created for.

Lucky Shiner is electronic music that cannot be performed in the conventional sense (only in the laptop sense), yet it still feels handmade. Each track, though created through a mechanistic cut/copy/paste workflow (to be reductive) is less assembled than crafted, and gives its rewards more freely as a result. Gold Panda has found the soul in the machine.

close to 94 rating: ★★★★★★★

This review is part of close to 94‘s [emusic club], which reviews one album from the eMusic catalogue every week from a selection refreshed every month.

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