Album review: Gold Panda – ‘Lucky Shiner’

Londoner bears out blog promise with a beautiful globe-trotting travelogue of dreamy electrism

[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. But showing un-Panda-like ambition, he also sold all his records to fund a diploma in Japanese at the School Of Oriental And African Studies, then packed up some synthesizers into a case and flew east to experience the country’s music and culture first-hand. On returning he has shown a keen eye and ear for remixing, doing great things for [a]Little Boots[/a], [a]Bloc Party[/a], [a]Simian Mobile Disco[/a], [a]HEALTH[/a] and [a]The Field[/a]. Now he’s taken another leap forward with the release of his scintillating debut album, helped in turn by [b]James Shaw[/b] of SMD, who took on mixing duties.

‘[b]Lucky Shiner[/b]’ is arranged as a sparkling ring. It opens with former single ‘[b]You[/b]’, and ends with a different version of the same song, creating a loop with ‘[b]Marriage[/b]’, as warm as burnished sands at midday, as the glittering centrepiece. Elsewhere ‘[b]Same Dream China[/b]’ is like the chrome chassis of Underworld’s ‘[b]Jumbo[/b]’ stripped of all its flesh and enhanced with the echoing of marimbas and xylophones. ‘[b]I’m With You But I’m Lonely[/b]’ has Congolese finger pianos treated and distorted until they sound like brittle tuning forks snapping under great pressure.

‘Lucky Shiner’ was recorded in the leafy Essex countryside but its heart lies further afield, betraying the influence of Gold Panda’s explorations in sound. It feels like the ravishing opium dream of a Victorian gentleman explorer, trying to recreate the exoticism of a long trip abroad through a prolonged period of narcosis. Just blissful.

[b]John Doran[/b]

Click here to get your copy of Gold Panda’s
‘Lucky Shiner’ from Rough Trade Shops.