words by Mark Wilson

It’s the business time of year again, and between all the study for exams and stress you’ll be experiencing at work, you’re going to need some time to unwind and relax. Of anyone in the music world who knows this, Gold Panda is amongst the first to capitalise on it, if not pioneering the idea himself, in the vibes coming off his latest release, Good Luck And Do Your Best. A sample-heavy, electronic-based masterpiece, this album has more than something for any and every mood – the tracks on this album manage to encapsulate a whole range of emotions, rhythms and production techniques between and within themselves.

The eclectic mix of electronica beats with live instrumentation sampled on all tracks makes for an organic, vintage lo-fi sound, yet keeps its electronic roots at centre-stage. The album creates this tone right from the get-go, with the computer glitch sounds on ‘Metal Bird’ setting up the beat, for the sample to gracefully slide in and fill the void. This is built upon nicely in the next track, ‘In My Car’, with the samples taking the lead. The disjointed vibe of the beat that scatters itself across the album comes to the fore on this track, with the drum sample lagging somewhat behind the beat in the second verse. ‘Song For a Dead Friend’ builds on these offbeat, disjointed rhythms, with the dissonant, eerie vibe of the start being offset by the calming keys and percussion being introduced in a very sporadic, unpredictable way.

Another highlight of the album is the way in which it so effectively manages to capture the diversity of Gold Panda’s style. Nu-Disco grooves on ‘Chiba Nights’, with the lively piano sample and pulsing drums, flow seamlessly into a relaxed vibe created by a distant piano, clean guitar licks and wavy pads, perfect for late afternoon chills, on ‘Pink And Green’. ‘I Am Real Punk’ sounds more like the folky stuff of Yann Tiersen, with the acoustic guitar and double bass sounds creating a serene soundscape, emphatically intertwined with reduced, minimal electronic beats and synths. This folk feel comes back to haunt you on ‘Time Eater’, with what I can only assume is a harpsichord sample serving as the bass for what becomes a darker, more melodic dance track.

However, as diverse as the tracks can be, the actual tracks themselves can sometimes lack melodic development. While rhythmically and structurally evolving and captivating, you sometimes get the sense that you’re listening to the same, 5 second sample over and over – in some cases you very much are. Tracks like ‘Time Eater’ don’t play into this as much, offering something new to keep you on board for the whole track, yet opening track ‘Metal Bird’ gets somewhat stuck on the vocal track for a bit longer than it needs to.

Overall though, Good Luck And Do Your Best lends itself to all kinds of scenarios as either good background music for house parties, perfect study music to zone in and focus with, relaxation music to zone out and get lost in, or classic dance music to fill any dance floor. Testament to Gold Panda’s range, which shines through on his latest release, pretty much any time is the perfect time to be listening to this album.

Rating: ★★★★

Good Luck And Do Your Best is out now through City Slang / Inertia Music.

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