Review Summary: Gold Panda manages to capture perhaps the most honest snapshot of the underground music scene, as truthful and explosive as lightning in a bottle
I could argue for hours on end regarding the fact that Gold Panda had it coming, that super stardom (perhaps relegated to the endless confines of the internet, but super stardom none the less) was an assured thing for him. But let’s be realistic here; he kinda came out of nowhere, popping up with his own take on open field electronic panorama’s that even made a tourist like Four Tet seem somewhat toothless by comparison. And while he might be on the tip of everyone’s tongue (or dancing on the edge of blogger's fingertips) he still has that shadowy elusiveness that makes it feel as if he’s still your
artist, and not just another electronic producer to be cut up and divided amongst the masses. Whether he was reaching into the past and piecing together shards of broken melodies or latching onto the bustling bass perpetuations of the London club scene, the results were humble, whimsical, and entirely his own; which we, in turn, pretended were ours
and no one else’s.
was the deal breaker that almost didn’t happen, conceptualized and produced in spare time, lacking intention and motivated by a desire as simple as “why not"”. But the result has found Gold Panda dangling over the edge of a precipice, one that threatens to give way at any moment and send the artist hurtling into the stratosphere. Gold Panda is set to go supernova, and it couldn’t have come at a more important moment for electronic music. For all of the whimsy and the charm that Lucky Shiner
exuded, it was still based around the simple premise of dance music. It never attempted to be another
modern dance milestone, because frankly, it never needed to be. It was built around subtle intricacies and lo-fi delights; it briefly appeared to masquerade as another in a long line of romantic clubber re-tellings, but instead it prided itself on being entirely dependent on Monday morning blues that ached with the possible revelations of missed opportunities. Each track carried with it the somber weight of misgivings, of echoed halls and whispers of crowds long gone to scratch out their lives through the nighttime sky, like the white fire of shooting stars.
His entry into the always impressive DJ-Kicks series follows the same path, where it echoes nightlife rather than bleeds it. It’s a snapshot of a city in disarray, varying styles all clamoring for pride of place. It’s an album where grooves are teased out rather than forced, where the bass and the rhythms are shaky and sparse, contradicting their very nature. He creates this dichotomy, this mysterious contrast, by pairing the unlikely together to the point where they end up existing in new realms, blurring the lines between lonesome and seductive. Garage bashing gives way to woozy techno, dubstep gets folded over leftfield house; minimal gives way to the immediate, and the teary eyed lounge chic finds itself bookended by off-kilter club fillers. Punch drunk synths are intravenously injected over the cold and clinical beats and ejected in a similar fashion, woffling bass is dispersed over spacious and eerie ambiance. And somewhere in the middle of all this, Gold Panda manages to capture perhaps the most honest snapshot of the underground music scene, as truthful and explosive as lightning in a bottle.
The mix calls to mind the glory days of old when scuffed and warped white labels were passed around with a beggar’s fervency, as everyone attempted to be the first to say they were there when some exciting new strand of dance folly emerged out of the cloak and dagger electro of the 80’s. And it does seem that way here, that Gold Panda has made some kind of discovery that will be looked back on in a few years time as a defining statement to the turning tides of dance music extravagance. And yet there’s nothing here that hasn’t been bouncing around the yards for awhile now, but it feels as if it’s only just now getting its due notice. This latest DJ-Kicks entry is a true watershed moment on all fronts; for the label itself (which is just now finally coming back into the spotlight after being buried under the gift wrapped weight of Ministry Of Sound trinkets and Mixmag baubles), and for Gold Panda as well, who has proved that even the most left field of artists have the ability to change the music world if they so desire.