REVIEW: Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner

Tipped by the BBC to form the sound of 2010, London producer Gold Panda isn’t one to shy away from expectations. Following a slew of vibrant remixes and enigmatic originals surfacing across the web throughout the year, Gold Panda finally dropped his debut LP, Lucky Shiner, on 11th October 2010. As if the earnest anticipation of the record wasn’t enough, Lucky Shiner had not one but two labels jousting over its rights with both Notown and Ghostly International stamping their renowned logos on the melancholic album sleeve. Regardless of heavyweight backing, I blasted up the jukebox with one question in mind; can the album hold its own in a brawl with the best of 2010?

Tracklisting:

01. You
02. Vanilla Minus
03. Parents
04. Same Dream China
05. Snow & Taxis
06. Before We Talked
07. Marriage
08. I’m With You But I’m Lonely
09. After We Talked
10. India Lately
11. You

Known to us simply as Derwin, Gold Panda has followed an off-centre path to reach this point. Upon returning to London, he spent his days behind the counters of record shops and adult bookstores alongside stacking his record collection to the roof for future manipulation. Lucky Shiner’s feel bares no clear influences – instead presenting a unique vision of warm, choppy sampling and rolling percussion that crafts an engaging feel. There’s profound roots in instrumental hip-hop. It’s difficult to place how the tracks would respond to mixing, suggesting the album was built with live shows in mind, instead drawing the listener in with broken tempos and holding them to ransom with unusual song structures.

However, the real merits of the record lie in the haunting, atmospheric samples that underpin each track. They’re hard to place, dropping subtly and gradually building to a sustained encore, but they create an uplifting clarity that’s lost on so much electronica of today. The undisputed champion of the album has to be the track Snow & Taxis, separating itself from the rest with effortless energy that serves to complement Gold Panda’s mature, colourful production that is present throughout.

As if to further illustrate my point, Gold Panda recently made a live appearance on Fader Magazine with an energetic rendition of his latest material that captures perfectly the outlandish essence of Lucky Shiner. And so to answer my initial question; the best albums of 2010 stand out because of their originality, and I haven’t heard anything as unique as Lucky Shiner so far this year.

mp3: Gold Panda – Snow & Taxis