Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best
Nov 29, 2016
Gold Panda becomes our own personal tour guide as he uses his exotic palette to transport us to foreign lands.

Producer Gold Panda is no stranger to Japan, or to traveling for that matter. His new record “Good Luck and Do Your Best” prominently displays his exotic palette and his ability to express it through soundscapes built from short samples and synthesizers. This is not his first attempt at faraway electronic music, his debut and sophomore records both capitalized on the same technique, but not quite as masterfully as this release.

Electronic music in today’s age is a carnival of hundreds upon hundreds of copycats, unsuccessful experimentalists and hopeless resurrectors. If I felt so inclined as a music critic, I could spend all my nights and days examining and over-examining every DJ and producer that thinks he’s “got what it takes” and still miss potential talent hidden in the bottomless pit. Maybe everything Gold Panda touches isn’t (no pun intended) gold, but there’s something incredibly fresh about his work, even following multiple listens. Having sifted through my share of electronic waste and after making my pilgrimage through the legends (Aphex Twin, DJ Shadow, Underworld, Boards of Canada, Burial), to be pleasantly surprised by a fairly new artist is a treat I feel I must share. In respect to modern music, progress often comes from electronic music. And more often than not, progress does not come from abrasive experimentalist’s (from this year, a good example might be Ash Koosha, in my opinion). When “Good Luck…” first graced my ears, I was transported to someplace gleefully alien, and I didn’t even know who the hell Gold Panda was!

So who is Gold Panda, you ask? He’s a sample-based music producer who travels frequently, spent his college years in Japan, and currently is on his 3rd installment, which may turn out to be this years most coveted electronic release. Inspiration for this album came from his latest trip to Japan and classic hip hop music, which is immediately apparent upon first playthrough. The title of the album comes from something a taxi driver remarked to Gold Panda on his way to Japan, and propelled the album in an overtly positive direction.

A seriously wide array of samples are used to craft soundscapes that stimulate all the senses, most of which are only a few seconds in length. Panda uses these fleeting samples which are then looped, edited, and finally set into one of many layers that shape each sonic vessel. You’ll hear exotic string instruments (“Chiba Nights”, “Time Eater”), occasional vocal arrangements (“Metal Bird”, “In My Car”), tribal bongo beats (“Song for a Dead Friend”), and the occasional electronic component that blends in too well to notice. Most of the tracks hold their own with little to no help from electronics but on tracks like “Halyards”, warm synthesizers provide that missing element that the song desperately needed. The only complaint I can muster is directed at “Pink and Green” for having an awkwardly obtrusive bass line that seems to push its way past the synergy of the song and leaves an ugly spot in the mix. To say that I would omit this track, though, would be a negative. I’ve played this album through on various occasions and never have an allowed myself to skip it, since, a majority of the song is beautiful as it’s counterparts.

There are a few elements that construct the framework which Gold Panda works off. One of the main tools he utilizes often are hip-hop percussions, whether electronic (“Your Good Times Are Just Beginning”) or a sampled drum riff (“Autumn Fall”). Another recurring piece that pops up are piano samples. Of course, this doesn’t depreciate the final product, as the uses of these parts are used cleverly every time. As soon as the drums hit in “In My Car” it drives (pun not intended) the song from being a causal listen to an ass-shaking one. Vinyl crackling “Autumn Falls” uses two separate piano samples (simple as they might be) which builds a seamless rhythm you must consciously remind yourself is built off puzzle pieces from past. Granted, there are a few surprises where neither of the above are utilized, like “I Am Real Punk”, the album’s slowest jam, which utilizes very few samples other than two interlocking acoustic guitars and maybe a maraca?

At the end of this musical journey you’re likely to feel wistful over either the overall charm of Gold Panda’s handiwork or the thoughts of travels you felt you embarked upon along the way. This album is subdued yet invigorating. It gives one the impression of having gone somewhere, without ever leaving one’s room. If that isn’t reason enough to give Gold Panda a shot, maybe you need to get out more.
Nov 29, 2016
great review man! definitely one of my favorites of this year as well.
Nov 30, 2016
Thanks man! Really appreciate the feedback my brother.
Mar 5, 2018
hi, just saw this review in rym. the taxi driver should be notified, this is great.
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