Four months after his last project, papi panda has returned with a new album; error_001. The four-track tape is notable for its minimalist production by panda himself that is a beautiful hybrid of cute, happy melodies and a dark industrial atmosphere that gives the tape a very niche spot to sit in the current landscape of the underground.

The first song off the album, “silent symphony”, is a short introduction to the sounds one will be hearing for the next three songs: a catchy yet eerie melody, a dark and droning bass, and a constant sense of unease. With this track being the only one without a strong presence of drums, pandas vocals are left to shine accompanying the piano, and the copious amounts of reverb he puts on his vocals build this lonely and chilling atmosphere. The lyrics focus on that feeling of loneliness and the mistakes he’s made in his life:

Tried to end it all before, but nothin’ ever worked // I’ve took cuts to the stomach and plenty of burns // Away // Take me away // Please get me gone // Erase my mistakes

This leads right into the next track, “deaff”. It picks up right where “silent symphony” left off, but after about a minute and a half, he unleashes his demonic growls, giving the track a strong change in momentum, keeping the listener guessing where he will go next. The lyrics reflect on a time when no one cared about who he was until he started standing out from the crowd:

Not until I started wearin’ a leash // Not until I painted my nails to bleed // Not until I fucking studded a belt // Ain’t nobody here was talkin to me!

It is also at this point that the percussion in the track picks up, amplifying the energy of the beat that allows us to shift gears into the next song.

Track 3, “self destructive” is a personal favorite. When panda dropped a teaser video on twitter for the album, it was this melody that was shown off, and it is the strongest earworm on the album. It has an extremely nostalgic quality to it, somehow reminding me of something from childhood, which is beautifully subverted by the production and vocals. 

This is the most packed instrumental of the tracklist, and that wall of noise all centers around the main melodic loop. Panda’s verse is his most outwardly aggressive track yet, while keeping a very mellow vocal tone. This song also features verses from norii and STM. After a manic first verse from panda, the second verse is handled by norii, where he switches every bar between growling and singing in autotune, putting the listener further on edge and increasing the feeling of helplessness and isolation. The beat then fades away, and norii’s verse finishes. After a short rest, STMs vocals come in, which acts as a resolution, bringing the song to some sense of peaceful place. 

From here we get the last track of the album, “chemical soup”. This is the odd one out of the tracklist, as the melody of the track takes a back seat to the pure nastiness of panda’s vocals and the drums. Instead of only growling for a few bars, this song is almost entirely unsettling growl vocals. Similar to the first track, this last song is short, but it packs in so much anger and viciousness in the short run time. Even though it is a minute and a half, it feels like a fitting conclusion to the journey of solitude panda took the listener on through the album.

For being a short album at only four tracks, papi panda packs in as much quality as he can in the short runtime. This album is absolutely perfect for those who are into more dark, experimental takes on hip-hop. Listen to error_001 below on SoundCloud.