After flirting with more dance-focused tempos on 2013’s Half of Where You Live, the Essex born producer again takes flight to distant shores in search of inspiration. While his sophomore EP felt like a transglobal trek, Good Luck and Do Your Best sees Gold Panda return to his original muse and his home-from-home, Japan.
Recorded in his home studio in Chelmsford after two field-trips to Japan gathering sounds, the sample based compositions frequently incorporate eastern instrumentation like the percussive strings at the end of ‘In My Car’, the martial arts sound effects of ‘I Am Real Punk’, or the koto melody that shyly glides its way through ‘Chiba Nights’.
This latter track is one of the more urgent numbers on an album that sees the producer delve once again into the more ambient territory explored on his first album Lucky Shiner. With its casual yet infectious bass-line and repetitive piano stabs, it’s easy to imagine getting lost to ‘Chiba Nights’ at one of this summer’s festivals.
The album’s opener ‘Metal Bird’ is a different beast, with its swelling strings samples awash in ambient vocal textures and MPC triggered samples that unfold in a steady rhythm. Delving deeper into melancholic realms is the beautifully schizophrenic ‘Song for a Dead Friend’. What starts out as a haphazard mix of frantic drum programming and a manic lead synth becomes increasingly tender and poignant as softly sustained Rhodes chords pick out a delicate and thoughtful progression.
There are plenty of solid tracks that make up the latter half of the album, and while they retain the same ambient qualities of what’s come before, the energetic 4/4 tempos of tracks like ‘Autumn Fall’ and ‘Haylards’ will find good homes in Gold Panda’s live sets. None more so than the deftly assembled ‘Time Eater’ that combines the best of what this album has to offer. The track begins with a carefully plucked arrangement of string instruments and is shortly joined by a sure-footed kick drum pattern reminiscent of Apparat’s solo work. It’s a lofty and catchy number that will find favour with fans of melodic electronica and deserves the kind of exposure a track like Bonobo’s ‘Cirrus’ has enjoyed.
A confident and cohesive outing from Gold Panda that snugly appends his first trilogy of LPs and marks the UK producer as a comfortable and capable craftsman of the long format release.