Gold Panda - Good Luck and Do Your Best
Gold Panda is a focussed, driven man. Two maxed out credit cards funded his first soul searching visit to his Japan; there’s no time to waste when the direction of one’s life hangs in the balance. Good Luck and Do Your Best finds the Chelmsford musician returned to the country he holds dear, music formed from his love of Japan’s wide palette, especially its spring and autumn illumination: “the orange light that makes the place glow.” A visual project accompanies the album, photographer Laura Lewis joins Gold Panda, as if from Éric Rohmer's film 'The Green Man' in search of the rare green flash at sunset, our own thoughts and those of others revealed by magic. A rare event captured on both tape and celluloid eager for sharing.
An impatient stomping of feet introduces opening track ‘Metal Bird’’s uncertainty of this new journey, the titular bird on the roof itching to spread its wings and explore. ‘In My Car’ darts along the urban landscape’s electric trails unlocking stories behind closed curtains at the crack of dawn, natural and neon’s contrasts detailing the most colourful time of day, while ‘Chiba Nights’ finds further natural and artificial tensions: a 10th-century Shinshoji temple against Tokyo’s Disneyland resort. Then ‘Pink and Green’’s palette soothes out-of-rhythm drumbeats. The low pitched samples of ‘Song for a Dead Friend’ capture the mood but not reassurance of a funeral: a fluttering of wings signals the bird’s return waiting for life to move on. Punk is subjective, ‘I Am a Real Punk’’s meditative finger-picked guitar carves an ornamental garden oasis, white noise, the remnant of creation’s fury, also eases people into sleep.
Hi-hat percussion in ‘Hylands’ punctuates departure lounge piped music as white noise again relaxes. In sleep, ‘Time Eater’ loses our bearings, fingers tap revealing time’s relativeness in ‘Unthank’ where unwanted memories come flooding back: bird’s feet, distorted waveforms, white noise now lacking function. ‘Your Good Times Are Just Beginning’ snaps us awake, now happy memories of video arcade piano chords and saxophones from a lovely night spent in a nightclub, the final long fade describing a prosperous future.
Tensions define Gold Panda's work: consumed with self-doubt while having a positive frame of mind, thrilled by new experiences with an underlying sense of melancholy. This is important as he insists he cannot control the music he makes, "tracks needing to reveal themselves.” And there is a clear progression, compared to his earlier album 'Half of Where You Live', a more clear and consistent sense of place and giving over of time to one's reflections, sitting in an armchair not dancing in a night club, and perhaps inline with this, not relying as much on his almost taken for granted technical prowess. A supremely confident piece of work, inadvertently and motivationally, titled by a friendly advice offering Japanese taxi driver met during his visit. However much luck played a part in matters, Gold Panda certainly did his best.