Bonobo, aka Simon Green, has been crafting tapestries of organic down tempo beats for over a decade now, with each new release furthering refining his sound. In a way this evolution mirrors that of fellow UK chill/downtempo/whatever you want to call it artist Four Tet. Both artists’ work has begun to resemble more traditional dance music, and on Green’s fifth LP The North Borders a number of tracks are ready to start your dance party.
Lead single “Cirrus” is a pretty straight forward house track, with plenty of Bonobo’s trademark organic samples. “Know You” is another personal favorite; it builds and builds before breaking out into a bass heavy groove. This is not to say that Green has abandoned his signature style; far from it. As a whole the album has a mysterious quality, as if you are crossing into the mystical world of Bonobo. Like his previous full length, Black Sands, many of the songs here are heavily informed by contemporary UK bass music. Stand out track “Emkay” seems almost like an evolution of “Eyesdown ft. Andreya Triana” from BS, and a wonderful serving of classy bass music. Strings, drums, and sub bass flow together seamlessly, while vocal samples slide along for the ride.
Bonobo’s use of vocals has always been one of his strong suits, and this album is no exception. “Heaven For The Sinner ft. Erykah Badu” is another standout, and in my humble opinion is a better use of Miss Badu’s heavenly voice than her collaboration with Flying Lotus last year. Two different tracks feature the vocals of Szjerdene, another British R&B talent ala Andreya Triana, but even the un-credited vocals samples are mesmerizing. “Sapphire” is another lovely bit of stylish sub bass, and the subtle vocal work ties everything together.
You can buy The North Borders here: http://bonobomusic.com/ , or on iTunes.