Release Date: Oct 12, 2010
Record label: Ghostly International
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Listening to Lucky Shiner for the first time is like peeling back the face of a well-made pocket watch and being able to witness every intricate detail that goes into the ticks and tocks. The simple brilliance that Gold Panda is capable of delivering with this crisp and intricate album stands in sharp but good contrast to the previously released Quitters Raga. These tracks include a perfect blend of hip-hop and dance beats while maintaining a playful magnetism.
The debut album from British electronic producer Gold Panda is immersed in nostalgia. It's a go-to emotion for every era, but, thanks to the eternal memory bank known as the Internet, this is a particularly fruitful time for looking back. But not all remembrances are created equal. The majority of today's cultural nostalgia is dominated by a cheap, remember-that-show quality that ultimately infantilizes its audience into submission.
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.
[a]Gold Panda[/a] aka 28-year-old east Londoner [b]Derwin[/b] (no surnames, thank you)is neither gold nor a panda. He’s a pink-coloured human. Unlike most pandas (and a lot of men for that matter), he isn’t content to just sit round on his fat arse, shovelling food into his gob, being terrible at having sex and glumly waiting for death.Our hero’s craft, as exemplified on blog breakthrough ‘[b]Quitter’s Raga[/b]’, lies somewhere between minimal house, ethno techno, eclectic turntablism and spun-silver electronica.
Despite the influence of many noisy sub-genres and effects as discomfiting as vinyl crackle turned into drumbeats, the debut album by Gold Panda is an almost soothing 40-odd minutes of Warpish instrumental tracks. It's immediately likable: opening track You consists mainly of two quickfire samples of the words "you" and "me" duelling over a hip-hop beat, and Parents opens with a sample of his grandmother asking for help with a wheelbarrow. Recorded while dogsitting for an auntie and uncle – not a gestation you can imagine Lucky Shiner shares with many of its forebears – it's an album that sits on a pleasant fence between invention and homeliness.
In July 2009, East-London beatsmith Dervin, a.k.a. Gold Panda, lifted himself above the remixing masses with the drop of an original 7-inch called “Quitter’s Raga.” Tag-clouds gathered on the horizon at the moment of its birth, and the sibyls of the net declared favorable auspices. The scant, stammering chop-job pairs tabla and hand-clap, sitar, and gittar just in a way that conveys a sort of sleepy-eyed transglobal bustle.
Gold Panda’s ‘Quitter’s Raga’ was one of last year’s most quietly enchanting little pieces of music. A lithe, smoky miniature that barely lasted the amount of time it had already taken to drop the needle on the 7-inch, it was pieced together from tiny snippets of an Indian raga scale, percussion twisted like tunnel vision and an almighty cloak of radio fuzz. Almost as soon as it began it was gone again, but it was remarkably adept at transporting the listener to somewhere distinctly ‘other’.
Shifting, shimmering mini-scores wracked with emotional subtlety and unexpected warmth. Reef Younis 2010 If every good story needs a beginning, middle and an end, can it be applied to albums too? In a world where albums flit between holding cells for a conveyor belt of singles and grandiose depictions of a concept no-one but the artist understands, it’s a medium to be experimented with. At your own peril, obviously.It’s a storytelling mantra Gold Panda has taken to heart, book-ending Lucky Shiner with disparate versions of You.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cult of originality. Especially when considering electronic music, a form which supposedly develops in lockstep with technology, the expectation is for a unique twist and turn from every artist, whether that results from more processing power, an absurd amount of layering, custom developed software, or something as simple as a signature filter or EQ setting. The irony is that a technique which provides freshness at one point in history often serves to date it later on – originality begets obsolescence.