Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gold Panda

Lucky Shiner
There are usually two options for electronic hip-hop records: mellow trip or study in complex head-buggery. This sample-and-synth glitch-hop debut LP from UK remixer and hype-shined Gold Panda is both. With no traditional vocals to speak of, Panda uses layered sound vistas and heaps of sampled noise to carry the weight of the hooks; the result is a surprising warmth of texture and melody that envelops you like a well-worn hoodie. "India Lately" incorporates found sound samples over a loop that's like the thump of a flat tire on grooved asphalt and a buzzing ambiance that's somewhere between a swamp full of mating insects and a droning sitar. Toward the finish, the swarm grows — trashcan drum hits, devotional chanting, and Eastern-film-score strings enter the mix. Opener "You" works a similar sitar-and-spliced-up-Bollywood vocal motif to push the glitch-hop bump forward. "Vanilla," on the other hand, is a minimal groove of stabbing twitch tweaks over the crackling static of rotating vinyl. "Same Dream China" is the centerpiece, though, with its cascading whirl of chiming synths that drip and burst like rapid-fire xylophone tricks. It's all a lot to wrap your head around, and depending on your mindset, you could either follow the sound collage down the rabbit hole or simply ride the surface-level groove.

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