Bonobo: The North Borders (Ninja Tune, 2013)

April 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bonobo: The North Borders

Bonobo: The North Borders

Bonobo’s last album, 2010’s Black Sands, was a breath of fresh air for the downtempo/nu-jazz producer, as well as the sometimes samey Ninja Tune label, injecting some 21st century UK bass elements into a sound that definitely needed some updating. Of particular note was the addition of British soul singer Andreya Triana, who sang on 3 of the album’s songs, particularly standout “Eyesdown”. Bonobo produced Triana’s solo album Lost Where I Belong the same year, and while she doesn’t appear on Bonobo’s new album, instead we get none other than Erykah Badu, as well as promising newcomer Szjerdene, plus Grey Reverend (of Cinematic Orchestra) and Cornelia (who has a few solo releases and a lot of guest appearances). Musically, the album generally continues in the dancey direction of Black Sands, and while it seems at first that there’s less jazzy elements and a more electronic sound, the liner notes list plenty of live instrumentation credits (lots of strings, horns, and mallet percussion), which are seamlessly integrated into the sound. While 5 of the tracks feature guest vocalists, many others feature manipulated vocal samples, in line with what other recent Ninja Tune-released artists such as FaltyDL are doing. Highlights include the galloping two-step “Emkay”, choppy harp-driven dubstep track “Sapphire”, and both Szjerdene tracks. Nothing as blindingly gorgeous as “Eyesdown” here, but still at least as solid a full-length as its predecessor.

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