Gold Panda slows down for Good Luck and Do Your Best

Good Luck and Do Your BestWhat began as a visual documentarian trip to Japan two years ago became the inspiration for Gold Panda’s new fourth album, Good Luck and Do Your Best. Accompanied with photographer friend, Laura Lewis, the pair planned to collect audio field recordings to document their trip. That is, until a Japanese taxi driver in Hiroshima said to them, “Good luck and do your best,” as they parted ways. This, says Derwin Schlecker aka Gold Panda, is where his new album title came from. The Japanese phrase “Ganbette Kudasai” doesn’t translate directly into English, but this friendly goodbye was the muse for an unexpected album.

Good Luck and Do Your Best represents the foreignism of picturesque Japan with metallic sounds and soft strings but combined with this kind of pleasant and familiar hum throughout. I guess the unfamiliarity of Japan becomes more and more familiar when you bring all these sounds and inspirations back to Chelmsford to produce the album - which was mixed by Luke Abbott, by the way. You’d think the clashing abstracts of home and away would create a disjointed album but it’s the opposite. It’s slow, relaxing and flowing.

Opening track, “Metal Bird”, leads us into the foreign air of Japan with echoey backing vocals, feeling slightly eerie and ethereal but pleasing. With a soft, graceful kind of rhythm to it, “Metal Bird” paints a serene picture. “In My Car” is the second single of the album, with looped humming vocals and occasional snare adding a rich texture. The shimmering synths and Japanese string koto make the track all the more interesting.

Gold Panda draws inspiration from the colours of Japan with “Pink and Green” like some kind of pretty Instagram filter that isn’t available in the UK yet. Its intermittent piano keys and chimes decorate the track with an air of positivity. There’s a beautiful sleepiness too, especially in “I Am Real Punk” with its slow background hum above mentioned, creating this kind of lush haze. It feels very autumnal and relaxing which is a vein that continues throughout the album. The autumnal vibes are fitting, seeing as Gold Panda went to Japan in October.

Good Luck and Do Your Best certainly feels personal and positive. Gold Panda reflects on the foreign and the new with an ethereal, metallic sound yet remains calming and comforting at the same time. And these mixed emotions actually conform together to create a serene album, producing a colourful sound bite of Japan.

Release: 27th May 2016, City Slang

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