Not to say we were getting tired of hors-d’oeuvres; let’s just say we are happy that the main course has finally arrived. After remixes by the handful and extended plays by the few, London-based producer Gold Panda has whipped up his heartiest release to date. Lucky Shiner, Panda’s first long-play, should simmer down skeptics who deem him “remixer” and question the long-term appeal when left to his own devices. Without a template to follow, Lucky Shiner is quite fittingly bright — and it’s no fluke.
Can’t say it’s easy to find someone out there who questions Gold Panda’s sampling technique; he is among the best in the business these days when it comes to applying the pieces that have inspired him, and somehow/someway getting them to fit just right. Panda’s appreciation for Southeast Asian music bleeds through the tracks on Lucky Shiner; memories of the breathtaking Japanese hip-hop producer Nujabes — who unfortunately passed along earlier this year — fade in and out through multiple listens. Just as “Same Dream China” reaches its peak, GP gets to work on a standout sample that essentially brings sound to a flowering of Asian poetry. Heading west a little bit brings us to “India Lately”. Panda gives you ten seconds to get your feet wet in the Indian Ocean, and then it is off to the races. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint, with six minutes of rich terrain to travel across. The drums are at times militant, at times pensive, yet always your best guide through Lucky Shiner‘s longest track.
Heading from one extreme to the other is a strength well exercised by Gold Panda on this record. A good portion of the tracklist is primed for your high-speed highway commute, while a special handful of Lucky Shiner intimately enhances the emotional aspect of the LP. “Parents” on its own would be hard for many Panda heads to comprehend, but that acoustic wind-down, held alongside melodramatic entries like “I’m With You But I’m Lonely” and the second rendition of “You” is what holds this album together, and really proves Gold Panda’s worth as more than just a singles/remixes entity.