First Listen Review: Gold Panda – Good Luck And Do Your Best

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Atmospheric

Foregrounding the essence and atmosphere of Japan, Gold Panda fuses organic sounds with an electronic construction that laces its elements together in a bold package.

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Good Luck And Do Your Best is fresh from the lips of a Japanese taxi driver, who bid farewell to the artist with the words, “good luck, and do your best.” Japan is the heart of Gold Panda’s follow up to his 2013 album Half of Where You Live, and what emerges is an album tingling with oriental inflections, conveying the ‘idea’ of Japan that we have come to expect from popular culture. What Gold Panda achieves, with an album he produced in his Chelmsford home, is the creation of the atmosphere of Japan, with organic sounds fused with the intricate electronic workings of his album.

Emerging from indecipherable white noise and gentle, breathy “hey”s, jitters ‘Metal Bird’. The opener stops and starts like a car struggling to get going, playing with space and silence to create an impact of the repetition of the track – before dissolving into a quiet almost-nothingness. Clarifying the track, at times, is an intricate chime melody that becomes elevated in ‘In My Car’. Here a more accessible sound can be heard, paved by a slowly paced staccato beat. Gold Panda creates a sense of movement in the track, as if (as the name suggests) you are in a car, with the scenery rushing by. Implemented too is the squeaking of breaks, broken up by synth riffs that form an electronic twang. What the track transcends into is a reflection of the ‘idea’ of Japan that is created in popular culture, giving a sense of the place through the track’s construction.

Both ‘Chiba Nights’ and the album’s lead single, ‘Time Eater’, provide an exciting deviation from the atmospheric tone of the album. The former brings with it a certain tropical feeling, with a repeated cha-cha rhythm that acts as a hook. There’s a distinct nighttime feel about the track, displaying Gold Panda’s ability to create music with a transportive quality. ‘Time Eater’ elevates the presence of Oriental chimes found in the opening two tracks, creating layers that gradually converge into a rhythmic sense of busy noise. Whilst the racing drum beat provides a continuity throughout, Gold Panda is clearly unafraid to create music that is at once distant and jarring.

Such distance airiness is foregrounded in penultimate track ‘Unthank’, which exists in a vacuum of gentle nothingness. The album draws to a conclusion with ‘Your Good Times Are Just Beginning’, which fuses piano inserts and trumpet sections to create a jovial energy. As is the case for the entirety of Good Luck And Do Your Best, nothing really reaches a height. Instead, you are washed with the atmosphere of the album – encouraging an appreciation for its intricate elements.

There isn’t anything safe, or perhaps accessible, about Good Luck And Do Your Best. Rather, Gold Panda is bold in his creation of an atmospheric interpretation of his trips to Japan in his musical construction. Good Luck And Do Your Best is full of intricacies that demand attention, whilst at the same time privileging space and silence for an immersive listen.

Good Luck And Do Your Best will be released on Friday 27th May via City Slang.

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Third year English student, Records Editor, list maker and lover of Kinder Buenos.

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