Record Label: Ghostly International
“I didn’t want to write ‘beats,’” says UK producer Gold Panda, “I didn’t want bangers. I wanted songs with structure.” And yet, despite the artist’s protests to the contrary, his 2010 debut album, Lucky Shiner, is full of bangers - of a kind. “Lots of factors affected the way it came together,” he explains, “touring, mixing, moving houses and splitting with a girlfriend. Family, friends, and lovers, places I’ve never been.” It’s that mix of directness and emotion that characterizes Lucky Shiner, an album of beat-driven electronic music that’s easy to fall in love with, and to. In Gold Panda’s world, vinyl-static beats and heart-on-sleeve melancholia collide, and the results are breathtaking.
Lucky Shiner was mixed by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Shaw and recorded in two sessions at a shady retreat in the English countryside - Gold Panda’s aunt and uncle’s Essex home. As GP explains, “They went away over Christmas for two weeks and asked me to look after their dog. I’d walk Daisy in the morning and then make tunes till she pestered me to take her out again. I’d bounce down what I’d done, stick my headphones on and walk her, get ideas, and repeat the process.”
Decamping to an idyllic retreat means the album bears trademarks of a pastorally hued Englishness; GP’s two years spent studying Japanese culture, language, and history at the School of Oriental and Asian studies in Japan also find their way into the music. Opener and lead single “You” slinks along with a stuttering vocal sample and teary-eyed chord changes in tow; “Snow & Taxis” sounds like prime dancefloor fodder, but its cloudy string samples and chiming bells situate its melancholy closer to M83 than anything else; and the deconstructed hip-hop of “After We Talked” employs a minimal, lo-fi drum machine and an array of ever-so-gently bitcrushed synths.
And the title’s origins? “Lucky Shiner is my grandmother’s name. Sometimes I think she knows exactly how I feel without me even mentioning anything to her.” And while Lucky Shiner is clearly a deeply personal album for Gold Panda, the producer insists upon inviting the listener into his emotional world. “It would be nice if people could hear the tracks and attach their own significance to them,” he says.