Album Reviews, Culture, Dance / Electro — April 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

REVIEW: Bonobo – The North Borders

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bonobo

Artist Name: Bonobo
Title Name: The North Borders
Label: Ninja Tune
Reviewed by: Rory O’Maley

Simon Green, better known by his stage name Bonobo, is an interesting figure in the electronic world. Achieving remarkable levels of renown in the electronic world while remaining virtually unknown to the general public, Bonobo’s chilled out mesh of down-tempo, jazz, trip hop and electronic have been coveted by those in the know since his debut release on a young Tru Thoughts in 2000. Now releasing through Ninja Tune, The North Borders adds another level and niche to the adaptive producer’s catalogue.

Shifting his musical focus from Black Sand‘s rapid and beat driven experimentalism, The North Borders strips back the producer’s sound for a smoother, more ambient ride. Though beats are certainly a prominent feature throughout the album, particularly in songs like “First Fires”, “Sapphire” and “Know You”, you can’t help but feel that the producer is in a calmer spot as his production is stripped back to its bare, dreamy essentials.

That’s not to say the songs are an infinite repeat of one style. The North Borders sees Green taking changes in direction, focus and vocalists (with some big guests to boot) to bring something new to every track. Bonobo’s ability to focus on a piece and progression as a whole rather than a series of hooks and loops is immaculate and is part of the reason the album shines. As a result of this, one finds that certain moments spring to mind after each listening that aren’t so much associated to a particular track, but the release as a whole.

In the end this continuity and completion is one of the best things about Bonobo and results in his singles becoming intrinsically tied to their surrounding album. Though it’s not a one trick pony, all of  The North Borders  tracks, except perhaps “Antenna” – which sounds very Animal Magic to me – are recognisable for the same dreamy, deep tones and direction that are currently catching the artist’s interest. In a sentence, The North Borders is a smooth, continuous work of ambient electronic music that slides seamlessly into the artist’s development.

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