Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You EP - Gold Panda

You EP

Gold Panda
Ghostly International.

SCQ Rating: 76%

As enthralling as the artist behind Gold Panda has crafted himself an identity - mixing extroverted vibes with a stranger’s mystique - it has been difficult to see the man’s releases as anything but virtual mirages on this American side of the pond. Images of his cover-art are commonplace but track-listings and street-dates have been harder to pin down; even on Gold Panda’s Myspace page, most releases were accompanied by 2010 and a series of question marks. Having spent the past few months finessing his fan-base on tour-circuits, Gold Panda looks eager to make this his breakthrough year with You EP (released by Ghostly International here in North America).

Although the physical 12” only carries two Gold Panda tracks (the digital version bears an additional bonus track and both versions offer remixes galore), You EP pays greater dividends than simply being a widely released physical memento. Beyond the title track’s immediate catchiness – think an emotionally charged take on Four Tet’s ‘Smile Around the Face’ – Gold Panda shows range with the house-frosted minimalism of ‘Peaky Caps’ and the frozen glitches hiding a warm melody on ‘Killing Yourself On a Beach’ (on digital version only). Although ‘You’ is gathering due attention for Gold Panda’s craft, my admiration tends to gravitate toward these other originals; both versatile in mood and BPM while never leaning on easy hooks, expansiveness could be Gold Panda's future M.O.

Now typically I’m the kind of listener who gets as excited about remixes as he does about taking out the recycling, yet these ‘You’ remixes easily double the EP’s playability. Surely it helps when a group of top-shelf remixers are on board, each capable of throwing fresh curveballs from their sleeves. Recent tour-mate Seams loops a fragment of the original into this hypnotic display of incidental harmonics before letting the song’s stuttering hook loose of the haze. Next up is Osborne’s remix, which duct-tapes Gold Panda’s track in a suitcase and morphs it over a worldly voyage of soft club grooves and a wonderfully off-kilter keyboard solo. Additional (but digital-only) remixes by Dam Mantle and Minotaur Shock highlight the single in continuously unique ways, calling attention to their own knack for melody while propping Gold Panda’s. Finding no shortage of ways to explore a single cut without ruining the original, these remixers help flesh out Gold Panda’s underhyped sonic chops. Although Ghostly’s 12”, in limited copies and beautifully packaged, is for many a first chance to grab Gold Panda’s music in the physical sense, it’s hard to refute the extra perks offered by the digital version. Lucky for you, dear reader, neither choice will leave you disappointed.

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