82 — [Rating Scale]
Nostalgia is usually the feeling you get when you're listening to an old record, one that helped shape the way you listen to music, one you'll always remember. Lucky Shiner, London based beatmaker Gold Panda's debut LP for Ghostly International, provides you with that very feeling. The full length in its entirety consists of samples, from the middle Eastern drum patterns of “You” to the operas and violins of album closer, “You.” As a producer, Gold Panda has drawn comparisons to Four Tet, however, Lucky Shiner denotes a more aggressive, more assertive brand of mechanical electronica. Yes, it pertains to the growing dubstep and even chillwave fixations, but it's also unprecedented in its own rank. Unlike most progressive electronica, Lucky Shiner is irresistible not to dance to; an exotic, cultural experience and infusion of chopped up motley fragments. At the core of these cold, meticulously calculated sounds, lies a great deal of heart, and an even greater deal of harmony.
Though there are appropriately no vocals here, Gold Panda manages to tell a provocative story, transitioning into songs earnestly, shaping moods and feelings like a conductor with a baton. From the hopeful, ebullient motif of “Before We Talked” to the celebratory “Marriage,” the intimidated tone of “I'm With You But I'm Lonely,” to the gradual finality and hip-hop aura of “After We Talked.” Much of Panda's musical influence comes from Southeastern and Japanese culture; on “Same Dream China” marimbas and fluttering chimes oscillate, the backdrop impervious to change, on “India Lately,” he uses sitars, glocks and what sounds very much like a didgeridoo, at one point even incorporating vocals. He samples guitars and fellow string instruments habitually, fashioning “Parents” entirely from samples of plucked strings.
Gold Panda is not to be confused with other contributing artists to dubstep/electronica this year (Flying Lotus, Toro Y Moi, Caribou). Like these producers, his repertoire explores the unchartered waters of progressive electronica by mixing and sampling sounds. What makes Lucky Shiner unparalleled is its bass heavy and dance friendly ambience, particularly on “Snow & Taxis”, whilst still adhering to this new wave of glitchy, computerized electronica. What's really memorable is how these sounds are able to provide you with a certain wistful feeling, an unworldly sense that though this is all new and compelling, you've kind of been here before. Also, the digital bonus tracks are a must.
LUCKY SHINER READER RATING