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“an idiosyncratic strain of psychedelic dance based on dense layers of exotic samples and hip hop beats” The Independent
“achingly beautiful” Pitchfork
After a string of sellout shows, GOLD PANDA returns this autum to play Londons KOKO.
A culmination of years of work spent refining his sui generis sound, Gold Panda’s eagerly awaited debut album is finally here. An artist at ease traversing genre boundaries in search of new auditory frontiers – whether mixing dissected Hip Hop beats or the pulsating flourishes of minimal Techno – this apropos release will cement the foundations laid by previous output and visions whilst expanding his canon to unparalleled limits. As electronic music gradually arcs into a period of unprecedented successes, Lucky Shiner pits GP firmly at the forefront of a new wave of artists unafraid to challenge preconceptions of what music can be.
Mixed by Simian Mobile Disco’s sonic veteran James Shaw and recorded in two session spent in the shady retreat of the English countryside – at his Aunt and Uncle’s Essex home – after, as GP explains “they went away over Christmas for two weeks and asked me to look after their dog. I’d walk Daisy in the morning and then make tunes till she pestered me to take her out again, I’d bounce down what I’d done, stick my headphones on and walk her; get ideas and repeat the process.” The end result is an album as influenced by family as it is by the quickly flashing topography that stretches out of train windows. GP’s mesmerising attention to sound and detail means each beat resonates as past, reflects the present and looks forwards to the potential futures of the individual; listener and artist alike.
Originally hailing from Chelmsford, Essex, and having spent the early part of his career as remixer du jour for the likes of Bloc Party, Health, Telepathe, Little Boots and Simian Mobile Disco, Gold Panda’s ascent to the forefront of contemporary electronic music has been steadily meteoric. Nominated as one of the BBC’s sound of 2010 nominees, shows around the world with Caribou, Health, SMD and more to come on his own in the UK and the US with Autolux, a cover star in Japan, three sold out E.P’s and a raft of praise and hyperbole from the mouths that matter (Pitchfork, NME, The Guardian amongst them) only tells half the story however.
Lucky Shiner’s the piece that completes the picture. Originating in crystal clear vision, the nuance and frenetic cadence of life and the mind’s constant disequilibrium means its final realisation stands as a product that’ll provoke thought as much as enjoyment; pathos as much as praise. “Lots of factors affected the way it came together.“ Gold Panda explains, “touring, mixing, moving house and splitting with a girlfriend. Family, friends and lovers related, places I‘ve never been”.
Decamping to an idyllic retreat also means the album bears trademarks of a pastorally hued Englishness, whist’s also coloured by GP’s two years spent studying Japanese culture, language and history at the School of Oriental and Asian studies in Japan. ‘You’, ‘Parents’ (featuring a field recording of GP helping his grandma push a wheelbarrow in the garden ), ‘Marriage’. Lucky Shiner overflows with life. Disengaging with the need for vocal, GP intimates, makes intimate idea’s immeasurably expressive and does so whilst always retaining an unfettered ear for melody. “I didn’t want to write ‘beats’” he says about the album, “I didn’t want bangers. I wanted songs with structure.”
With, as he say’s, “two tracks made from a broken Yamaha organ bought for 99p off Ebay. A lot of the drum sounds just vinyl crackle turned really loud”, and one featuring almost solely guitar, “I don’t play guitar”, the album’s a concrete introduction to an artist willing to slip mercury like through constraints of genre, form and concept. And the title’s origins? “Lucky Shiner is my grandmothers name. Sometimes I think she knows exactly how I feel without me even mentioning anything to her.” Deeply personal then, Gold Panda‘s at odds to express that unequivocally on the album. Instead, he say‘s it “would be nice if people could hear the tracks and attach their own significance to them”.
Over forty tracks eventually extricated into eleven, cohesion found through the unified fragments that “went together. I wanted a beginning, middle and end” – feelings eventually became sounds, visions graduated into awareness. Do what the artist wants and attach your own significance, if meaning is in nature indeterminate, personal experience can do ought but help.
GOLD PANDA started writing beats and collaborating a few years ago, working with the likes of Infinite Livez and Shuttle (both Ninja Tune) as well as creating his own material.
Having spent downtime behind the counters of various establishments of ill repute – finding out that record stores and adult stores are no less seedier than each other, he consolidated the rest of his hours creating archives of electronic music; each track different from the other, incorporating multitudes of styles and disparate influences and obscure samples and base material. This led to a series of raved-about remixes, with requests from the likes of Little Boots, Telepathe, Bloc Party, Simian Mobile Disco and Health.
What does it sound like? One writer claimed that: “He intuitively mixes lopsided, chopped up hip hop style beats with a gorgeous refined melodic techno sensibility creating a fresh cross genre sound that’s distinct and accomplished.” Which sounds pretty good, so let’s go with that. The second half of 2009 will see Gold Panda touring with Simian Mobile Disco and adding to his three EP releases this year already with new material. Plus generally pushing on and consolidating his quickly burgeoning reputation as one of the brightest names in the electronic scene.
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