Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International) 11/10/2010

November 10, 2010 by  

Leftfield producer and remixer, Derwin Panda’s anticipated debut full-length takes us through a technically complex, yet sonically simple musical journey, which is clearly influenced by the Oriental glitchy sound.

The 30 year old East-Londoner struck up a fair bit of interest with smaller releases throughout 2009 and 2010, along with a series of his much sought remixes for Bloc party, Little Boots, Telepathe and Simian Mobile Disco.

‘Lucky Shiner’ (the nickname of Derwin’s grandmother) was recorded at his auntie and uncle’s rural cottage in Essex, whilst looking after their dog ‘Daisy’ for two weeks, with most of the tracks recorded using his main instrument, an Akai MPC2000XL sampler.

The 40 odd minutes on the record, comprised of 11-tracks mixed by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, do not conform to any specific style or genre, but draw from a lineage of different dance music sub-genres. In the process they traverse neatly between electronica, folktronika, ambient, shimmering techno and breakbeat in a down tempo style.

Its wordless stories are minimalistically presented, with emotional heft in both an organic and mechanical way. Crossing chill-wave with dancey pensive beats, the music works just as well on intimate dance floors as it does curled up alone in the sofa on dark, cold autumn nights.

Overall, Panda’s approach is more technical than showy, which easily could make the album too “ordinary” and anonymous, but the hypnotic and fluid blending of sounds keep it human and interesting. Throughout, cascades of sparkling sound constructions, restless energy, eerie instrumentals and drum beats give the album an immediate reference point to the distinct eclecticism of Four Tet and Caribou.

More prominently, the instrumental solo artist “Japan-fascination” bleeds through the album’s aesthetic soundscape and environment of influence, which is surely down to Panda spending two years in the country studying culture, history and language. Consequently, ‘Lucky Shiner’ is a début created and inspired by exploration and travelling. This journey has given the album a nuanced “eastern” sound, which is especially prominent on “Same dream China” and “India lately”.

The result is a deeply personal, warm, well-crafted début, with a profound narrative coherence, which continues to justify Derwin’s talent.

Recently he said in a interview: “Gold Panda is an entity that will someday turn out interesting, except for now it’s just me and my laptop”. If this album is only a sneak-preview of the rather mysterious and shy producer’s potential as an instrumental solo artist, then my expectations for his future releases and projects are high. This is electronic music with a heart.

[rating:4]


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