Album: Bonobo "The North Borders"

On April 1st the fantastic label Ninja Tune will officially release the album The North Borders by Bonobo, the project name for electronic producer and downtempo virtuoso Simon Green.  This will be Green’s fifth studio album and the follow up to the critically hailed and fan beloved Black Sands LP.  For those of you unfamiliar with Bonobo, more than likely you have heard him you just don’t know it.  Why just this morning I listened to NPR use the new hypnotic single “Cirrus” to transition between news segments and broadcast the station ID.  In my opinion, Green’s career is remarkable, rare and this album could be his best yet.  There are too few artists in electronic music that can continue to produce albums for more than a decade, still remain relevant and do it without sacrificing their identities, methods, etc. and The North Borders does just that.  The tracks on this album showcase Green’s love for sonic textures, intricate layers all while masterfully wrapped by some beautiful instrumentation and slick beats.

The emotional opening track “First Fires” highlights Bonobo’s brilliant meshing of electronic instrumentals with smooth soulful singers much like what we saw on Black Sands with Andrea Treyana. This time he features label mate L.D. Brown AKA Grey Reverend and skillfully interweaves Brown’s passionate vocals with great beats and then envelopes the entire track with some gorgeous strings and synths.  “Heaven for the Sinner” is another great collaborative track featuring excellent vocals by none other than Erykah Badu.

“Emkay” is one of my favorite tracks from the album and is an example of Green at his best. It begins slowly and simply with a catchy sound that utilizes samples of waves crashing and gorgeous bleeps while then adding a head bobbing beat.  Delicately, Green adds more metallic sounds and moving strings that create a lush atmosphere and-just when you think he can’t add anymore-he subtly introduces a saxophone layer that will be sure to have anyone groove.

This is not to say that The North Border is at its best at the beginning.  The track progression is one of its strengths and the flow feels organic not forced.  A couple of other faves of mine are found on the latter half of the album like the sick beats in “Ten Tigers” and the beautiful vocals by Sjerdene on “Transits.”  While the official release date is still April 1 it’s been released digitally due to the album being leaked last Thursday.  Check it out!  It will not dissapoint fans and will garner some new ones as well.

This entry was posted in Album.

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