- Depending on how much you wanna play along with Gold Panda's quest to hide his identity behind his recording moniker, his Discogs page maintains dude also goes by Derwin Panda. So you've got some options. Whatever Ma and Pa actually christened him, the London producer first established his brand of hypermelodic electronic with his fuzzy, effervescent remixes for acts like Bloc Party and The Field and last year's Quitter's Raga EP for Make Mine. For the recording of his debut full-length for Ghostly International, he drew off into his aunt and uncle's house in the English countryside and enlisted the aid of Simian Mobile Disco's James Shaw for the mixing. Much in the same vein of Quitter's Raga, the resulting album, Lucky Shiner, exudes a hazy sunbreak sensibility that recalls the site of its creation.
English pastorals and quaint backstory aside, Lucky Shiner further develops Raga's play with Eastern-leaning melodies and sounds. Gold Panda spent two years at the School of Oriental and Asian studies in Japan, and that influence is heard explicitly in the tea garden chimes of "Same Dream China" or the Indian vocal samples of "India Lately." Comprised of spin-dizzy samples, warm bell tones and the kind of pulpy IDM rhythms that were such a staple on Warp in the '90s, Lucky Shiner feels suited for forest strolls and lost Sunday afternoon in the same manner as someone like, say, Dominik Eulberg or Nathan Fake.
These are soundscapes for windowgazing and first morning coffee. Easy sonic comparisons can be made to artists like Axel Willner or the gauzy, open-vista electronica of Fairmont or Ricardo Tobar. The twitchy, paint-splatter electro of "Before We Talked" is a beautiful warbler in the Border Community vein, for example, and closer "You" melds a punchy hip-hop beat to a vocal sample given a little more space to play than on its sister track which opens the record.
The nagging familiarity behind some of his compositions, though, is also Lucky Shiner's biggest flaw. When listening to the album, it's hard not to appreciate how so much of the record has been created in more texturally and melodically satisfying ways elsewhere. Gold Panda's least interesting when his reference points become too overt. If we weren't already certain he was following Axel Willner's career by his remix of "I Have the Moon, You Have the Internet," Willner's brand of wintry, sample-blurred techno hangs over tracks like "You," "Vanilla Minus," and especially "Snow & Taxis." If these similarities aren't enough to damn the entire record, they're sufficiently irritating to make you just wanna reach for From Here We Go Sublime again instead.
02. Vanilla Minus
04. Same Dream China
05. Snow & Taxis
06. Before We Talked
08. I'm With You But I'm Lonely
09. After We Talked
10. India Lately