Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Companion - Gold Panda


Gold Panda
Ghostly International.

SCQ Rating: 71%

Gold Panda’s pre-Lucky Shiner catalog was everything a nerdy collector could hope for in the digital age: prolific but teasing, under the radar but hyped in all of the right corners. For those of you who, like me, wish to back-peddle to the limited-run beginnings of Gold Panda’s quick evolution, look to Companion for a one-stop fix. Gathering three of the beat-maker’s 2009 EPs onto a single disc package, Ghostly’s offering doesn’t simply retread the past for new (or less resourceful) listeners. Instead, its cut-and-paste job creates a bizarro full-length, one that unintentionally fulfills the EPs’ intangible quality that routinely kept us wanting more.

By confidently re-sequencing the tracks to serve the purpose of a longplayer, Ghostly has created some daring intersections for Gold Panda’s burgeoning craft. Coupling the fat electro samples of ‘Long Vacation’ with the refined loops of ‘Lonely Owl’ might’ve looked like a poor decision on paper but the tracks trip into one another as if Gold Panda had a sudden change of heart during a DJ set. That same impulsive feeling validates more subtle switch-ups, like where ‘Mayuri’ hops ahead of ‘Long Vacation’ (presumably because the former sounds so much better next to ‘Back Home’).

These sequencing tune-ups render the compilation less blocky, like how ‘Like Totally’ provides an air to the melancholic ‘Fifth Ave’ as if it has always been there, although one could argue Ghostly could’ve tinkered even more with the flow. The one release I would’ve preferred split up – the Before EP – remains curiously intact, meaning its meandering moments again group together as opposed to being redirected to more beneficial areas. Would spreading Gold Panda’s few mediocre tracks around make Companion more inviting, I’m not sure, but keeping the ho-hum experimentation behind ‘Triangle Cloud’ next to ‘Win-San Western’’s stuttering drum-and-bass kind of weakens the album’s back-end. That said, Ghostly rectifies the situation right away by using the early-classic ‘Police’ as a surprise-closing track.

Contrasting the painstakingly detailed bouts of bliss that Lucky Shiner dealt in, Companion lives without consequence, like a chain of songs largely unconcerned with any overarching expectation. The sequencing’s slapdash appeal fits Gold Panda’s ethos well, which might be the key reason Companion works as a never-was full-length.

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