Album Reviews

Gold Panda – DJ-Kicks

on November 04, 2011, 7:57am
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For his contribution to label !K7’s 16-year-long series DJ-Kicks, UK producer Gold Panda has a lot to live up to. Featuring DJs, remixers, and producers as diverse and accomplished as Carl Craig, Hot Chip, and Thievery Corporation, each DJ-Kicks installation is hand-mixed by a different curator. Gold Panda’s selections, including fellow UK-based avant garde composer Autistici and dubstep deviant Ramadanman, all reflect Gold Panda’s stylistic synesthesic burps and crackles. His cool, carefully mixed playlist—especially evident in how the songs flow effortlessly into another—well represents his contemporaries and influences.

Gold Panda uses an Akai MPC2000XL sampler to manipulate previously recorded sounds, much like the practitioners of electronic music’s precursor musique concrete. Because he uses organic sounds, many of his songs are onomatopoeic; thus, their content is more accessible to the listener. His signature crackling static on “Back Home”, off of his 2009 EP Miyamae, sounds warmly nostalgic when coupled with the climax’s whimpering violins. And opener “An Iceberg Hurtled Northward Through Clouds” has icy chimes looped behind a steady, handclap-driven beat really that do sound like a giant piece of ice thrown through the sky. These tracks don’t have the same irresistibility as his hits “Quitters Raga” and “You”, but they effect enough emotion to stand out among the rest of the album’s artists.

The other producers represented on DJ-Kicks are distinctly cooler and more lounge-appropriate than Gold Panda (“Coke” pretty much says it all), but like his work, their form mirrors function. Jan Janilek uses Gold Panda’s crackling base for “If’s, And’s, And But’s” but chills and reserves it with looped intakes of breath and minimal, distant lounge beats. “Godzilla” pushes 8-bit arpeggios against lazy tics, plodding along like its namesake monster. Bok Bok’s “Charisma Theme” is a little tongue-in-cheek, a mishmash of cheesy Salsa del Soul, pop xylophones, and a fuzzed-out, girlish “Vundabar!” And like all the seemingly disparate songs on the album, it transitions seamlessly– here, into the slickly bouncing “Andrean Sand Dunes” by Drexciya. DJ-Kicks might not be Gold Panda’s next album, but it’s a damn good DJ set.

Essential Tracks: “An Iceberg Hurtled Northward Through Clouds”, “Andrean Sand Dunes”, “Charisma Theme”

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