Gold Panda – The Work
Gold Panda's fourth album is the sound of techno growing up and chilling out
A lot has changed for Derwick Dicker since his last album as Gold Panda in 2016; he lived for a time in Japan, got married, had a daughter and stopped drinking. Now in his 40s, the result is a clearer focus and sunnier outlook, though this doesn't mean he's doing anything drastically different on new album, The Work.
There are still plenty of stabbing keys swarmed by orchestral flourishes, topped off with a low crackle that gives the impression of a crate-digging purist. First release I've Felt Better (Than I Do Now) features chopped up vocal samples and is the most upbeat song here, with a slightly odd string breakdown amid the frenetic beat.
But generally it's a relaxed, waltzing affair, as on The Corner, New Days or Plastic Future. Most songs feature what sounds like a zither or guzheng, a nod to Dicker's predilection for eastern-influenced production. Plinking strings evoke cascading water (Arima) or cut through the mellowness with a well-placed trill (Joni's Room).
There may be nothing here that hits with the immediacy of You or Junk City II, but the sense of control and restraint is well-suited to this kind of headphones music.
Listen to: The Dream, I've Felt Better (Than I Do Now)