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Gold Panda – DJ Kicks review

Coming from the same psychedelic headspace as Kieran Hebden and Caribou, Gold Panda has been busy making his pastoral 4/4 vision known to all and sundry. It seems like relatively early days for him to be enlisted for a DJ-Kicks compilation, but then people weren’t hugely familiar with the likes of Erlend Øye when he was drafted in. Besides, the important thing is the content within, and this mix sheds light on the myriad influences that feed into the Gold Panda sound.

What’s so striking about the tracklisting is its diversity, erring towards a more stripped-down, experimental kind of techno but ranging across Drexciya, SND, Zomby and Bok Bok, disparate elements in the electronic diaspora. Despite this erraticism, the flow of the mix is relatively smooth to begin with, keeping the tempo up, the beats solid and the melodies playful. It’s around the time that Christopher Rau’s “Do Little” comes in that the mix starts to drift. Jan Jelinek equally fluffs the vibe up with a soft and luxuriant take on micro house. While the tracks suit the natural, quirky feel of the mix as a whole, the hyper-micro house tangent they set the mix off on seems badly timed.

However it’s to his credit that Gold Panda manages to edge this lull into the whip-crack 2-step of 2562’s “Dinosaur” and have it make sense. However it’s just a foil for the careering path the remainder of the mix goes on, moving from avant-garde dubstep courtesy of Matthewdavid to the carefully crafted malfunctions of Brainiac. By the time the wall of chords in Giuseppe Ielasi’s “2” hits you, it’s hard to remember where it all began. In that sense, Gold Panda has served up one of the most distinctive and daring DJ-Kicks compilations in a while.

Oli Warwick