Sunday, 17 October 2010

Album Review: Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner

I made a bet with myself that when writing this review, I was not going to mention a certain electronic artist. Four Tet. Well, I lost. We all know that when talking about Gold Panda: there are always going to be references to Kieran Hebden, AKA Four Tet. Their sounds are so cold, and lifeless yet at the same time they sound so organic. They cross into mainstream dance, yet they sound like they're creating a polar opposite. And they're both of similar ages, but that doesn't mean anything.

'Lucky Shiner', is of average length (time and trackwise), but yet again simple facts do not begin to sum up the quality of this album. The content is astounding, and the moods set are just phenomenal.

The tracks whisk the listener to places that probably do not exist on earth, but exist solely as fantasies. 'You', evokes countless, beautiful imaginary Indian summers and 'Same Dream China', brings East Asia to the listeners, but it's the one off, pleasingly off kilter songs that glisten the most. The incessant kickdrum, and the strangely sinister synth of 'Vanilla Minus' makes for interesting listening, and the final song 'You.' reprises the first track 'You', yet it sounds like a totally new song. The sample has been changed, and it now sounds vaguely like 'Angel Echoes' by Four Tet (2 points.) The new, skittery beats add a melancholy edge to the once joyous ode to a fantasy India, and the swirling, final synth creates a magical ending.

Although the tracks are tremendous, it's the subject matter of the album that is really thought provoking. The  intro of 'Parents' contains a soundbite of Mr. Panda's grandmother. Her voice is deeply accented, but the fact that she is on the album shows just how important she is to him, and to the piece as a whole. Also, the fact that the album 'Lucky Shiner' is named after her, and the only picture in the liner notes is of her also makes you wonder about what the album is really about. The seemingly personal subject matter of the album could be the element that makes the calculated rhythms become effortlessly organic.

I did lose my bet twice, but any comparison to the majestic 'Angel Echoes' is the highest form of flattery. 'Lucky Shiner' is a gallant album, and is the perfect first step for a man who was completely unknown last year.

This panda is one that won't be going extinct any time soon.

9/10

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