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Gold Panda – Electric Brixton, London 12/06/13

July 23, 2013

Photos by Dan Smyth

“The great affair is to move” once said Robert Louis Stevenson, and travelling, or the feeling of generally being on-the-go, is often such a cathartic experience. Gold Panda knows this. Following 2010’s stunning debut LP Lucky Shiner that kind of fell from the sky, Derwin Gold Panda has been on an incessant touring binge around the globe, and freshly released album Half Of Where You Live is a response to this kinetic experience of this recent part of his life.

Japan. Sao Paulo. Any exotic urban street scene. Fleeting snapshots of the world have flashed through Derwin’s psyche, and this fecundity has very much fed into the driving, rich soundscapes that will surely end up on AOTY lists come what-December; so it was with a fevered stride that I set off to Electric Brixton to witness this in the flesh. Sadly I miss Dam Mantle as did many it seems. As an apology I’m going to place a link to the work of Dam Mantle on its own text line, like this:


Check it out. I do arrive once the security guards discard of my chewing gum to the Extra grave by the door (as yeah of course that’s where I always hide my drugs) just as anagloue techno artisan Luke Abbott starts ‘Modern Driveway’. I wish ‘Modern Driveway‘ played every time I walked into a room. Anyway this greeting is the equivalent of being given the most satisfying electronic hug on your favourite dance-floor – and whilst it was only 10 minutes or so my life, I got more from it in that short space of time than 8/10 full-length gigs that I will go to this year.

Electric Brixton is a relative newcomer to the London gig circuit – and a welcome one for South London-types (or simply anyone tiring of cramming everything ‘out-East’). £4.50 for a can of Red Stripe aside of course. Gold Panda takes to the stage overlooking a throng of electronic toys and 12 channel mixing desk that would even give analogue master such as James Holden a hard-on – who actually is the audience as it goes. Also present are two large screens flanking GP’s work station that flicker and loop imagery, coalescing with the sound.

And the sound is colossal. Electric Brixton’s soundsystem provides a clear and nuanced delivery of the earthy textures that define his sonic palette – and with the vibrant filckering plankton that’s providing the visuals to second-track-in ‘Snows + Taxis’, I’m getting a bit jealous of the 4 or 5 people who are likely to be on euphoric drugs in this room on a Wednesday night. I have been that guy, but I’m 29 and have responsibilities these days. Chopped and screwed ‘You’ followed – so that’s the white elephant out the way – with Lucky Shiner outweighing new HOWYL initially. Then ‘Brazil’ ebbs in via a mix and the whole room is aware of this fact from the first unambiguous drumbeat that gets dropped.

HOWYL is an album of journey, though written and produced after-the-fact – Derwin never records on the road, always in his Berlin home. Travel is glamorous only in retrospect and all that. Yet in a live setting tonight it’s so easy and a total pleasure to get lost in the very moment, the audience a sea of agreeable head nodding and venue shaking during the deeper bass throbs that are used sparingly. It’s not an all-out hands-in-the-air dance-a-thon, this is a London-crowd remember, but we’ve got a special augurial (and sweaty) energy here folks that’s for sure. This is about the now; sure the warm glow will be a pleasant after-gig feeling, but let’s worry about that later.

‘An English House’ is so smooth in texture and distinct in sound that it feels like my ears have just popped, or I’m trapped in some spellbinding esoteric bubble that I never want to leave. We have a fairly even split between the two albums over the course of a wholly absorbing (and generous) 90 minutes, and they co-exist with each other like the perfect marriage. Speaking of which a reworking of ‘Marriage’ sees out the night – but not before ‘Reprise’ opens the encore in a tender, coruscating fashion.

If Gold Panda was running away from making album II, I don’t know. I don’t know Gold Panda, I don’t even know his name. I do know to insert some facts about his Peckham-then-Essex upbringing, as that’s what people like me do. I’ve read them all do it elsewhere. I don’t know if Gold Panda was running away from ‘You’, that somewhat towered over Lucky Shiner. That’s not quite true, but maybe Gold Panda got trapped in this train of thought. I don’t know. I’m not a hubristic chap. A bit like Gold Panda. Not that I know even that. I do know I look a bit like him though when my hairs falls in a certain way and a pull a specific expression that I don’t know how to make. “Because I always feel like running… not away, because there’s no such place” said Gil Scott-Heron. If Gold Panda was running, he’s found a potent epoch in the run and it’s Half Of Where You Live – a piece of work from someone who’s found their sound. Art is often some kind of cathartic, spiritual journey. I’m just glad that Gold Panda has shared this journey with music lovers and enabled ecstatic nights like this to take place.

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