Gold Panda: Lucky Shiner (Notown/Ghostly)
British producer Gold Panda released this diverse album of electronic instrumental tracks on Notown in the UK before being courted for a broader release by Ann Arbor-based Ghostly International. It’s to our advantage that Ghostly did it, as it’s one of the more surprising and refreshing albums to come out in the latter half of the year. The playback of Lucky Shiner feels just right, clocking in well under an hour, but with a good variety of tracks, none too long. It’s a bit hard to peg him down here, with a sound that roams between the dancefloor, head-bobbing downtempo, pulsing neo-trance and glitchy IDM. Sometimes he shifts gears mid-track, such as the glitchy semi-melodic phrases of “Before We Talked” that give way to hazy, airy ambience. At times the album throbs with the urgency of Kompakt loopmaster The Field, most notably on “Snow & Taxis,” entirely passable for an outtake from The Field’s From Here We Go Sublime album. But what is perhaps most successful about the album is its unwillingness to stay put, mixing and matching tempos, grooves and sounds while staying true to a broader aesthetic, utilizing cut-up samples, repetitive phrases, precise programming juxtaposed with lo-fi sampling and editing. “Same Dream China” combines acoustic, melodic percussion with staggered dubstep-inspired rhythm, while “Greek Style” loops phrases over a swaggering hip hop beat that recalls Madlib et al. It’s an elusive album, really stuffed full of ideas. But despite its plethora of ideas and techniques, it feels cohesive and satisfying, a wonderful spread worth savoring.