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Before Gold Panda unleashed Lucky Shiner in all its nostalgic, sample-stuffed glory, the UK producer woodshedded, quietly releasing a series of EPs on Make Mine (UK), Varicount (Japan), and his own Notown Records. Even then, the hallmarks of the Gold Panda soundstatic-y slices of recontextualized sound, soul-stirring chord changes, an air of heavy-lidded melancholiawere in place. For the Companion EP, weve compiled three of Gold Panda's early 2009 EPs (Before, Miyamae, and Quitters Raga) along with a slew of previously Japan-only bonus tracks into a seamless listening experience, a journey into the heart of one of the finest beat-based musicians around. The Companion EP opens with the cinematic Quitters Raga, a not-so-distant cousin of Lucky Shiner's calling card You. Over the tracks all-too-brief two minutes, Gold Panda spreads Indian classical-music samples (sitars, tablas, sweetly chanted vocals) liberally over heartstring-tugging chord changes, evoking the fluttery feeling of spotting that special someone across a crowded room. Back Home (from the Miyamae EP) pulls its source material from what sounds like a late-night barroom slowdancetinkling chimes, softly blown horns, trembling fiddlesand whips them up into a bedroom dance party. Long Vacation (also from Miyamae) opens with an unnamed speaker intoning sometimes you make plans sometimes they dont work out, and eases into a state of sonic confusion, all water-droplet percussion and frantic machine noises. Win-San Western (from the Before EP) smashes a gonzo drum n bass rhythm up against a toy xylophone and somehow ends up with the chase music from an imaginary Sergio Leone film. A fitting complement to Gold Panda's inimitable full-length, the Companion EP shows a restless Gold Panda searching for his voice and, like all good creative minds, reveling in the process. Lucky for us, the searcher unearthed more than a few gems along the way.



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