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Black Sands

Bonobo

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Album Review

Laid-back London groove maestro Simon Green (alias Bonobo) returns after a considerable absence (on the recording front, at least) with this fourth full-length helping of his masterfully mellow monkey magic. While it's not terribly divergent from the future-jazz cut-ups that made his earlier efforts such an instinctively natural fit with the turn-of-the-century Ninja Tune stable, Black Sands evidences a clear evolution into a more distinctive, sophisticated, and complex style, resulting in his most musically adventurous work to date, and certainly his most modern-sounding. Green's clearly been keeping his ear to the ground for a bit of rhythmic reinvigoration: the immediately striking "Kiara" reworks the hauntingly elegant string refrain that opens the album with submerged vocal splices and a halting, head-nodding left-field hip-hop beat á la relative Ninja Tune newcomer Flying Lotus, while cuts like the "Eyesdown" and "All in Forms" shade subtly toward the dubstep diaspora. Elsewhere, "We Could Forever" is a funky Afro-Latin workout riding an infectiously crisp guitar riff, and the scruffy, swing-inflected breakbeats that dominated Bonobo's earlier output crop up again on "Kong" and "El Toro." But while the grooves here serve quite nicely (and keep things consistently varied), it's the lush layers of unmistakably live instrumentation laid on top — most of it played by Green himself — that make the album really soar. That's especially true on the two closing cuts, both stretching toward seven minutes, which eschew electronics almost entirely and feel more than anything like dense, moody, compositionally intricate modern jazz. At the other end of Black Sands' polychromatic though tonally consistent spectrum are a clutch of cuts featuring the rather blandly breezy vocals of Andreya Triana — silky smooth electro-samba ("Wonder When") and neo-soul ("The Keeper") that make for more than passable mood fodder but can't quite match the musical inventiveness displayed elsewhere (though Green does weave her vocals quite deftly among the clustered woodwinds and sparse stutter-step of "Eyesdown.") For a style of electronica (chillout/downtempo) that's grown decidedly dusty over the past decade — even though Bonobo is clearly striving to move well beyond such staid genre divisions, and in many ways succeeding, that's probably still the best place to slot him if you gotta — Black Sands is a welcome infusion of life and warmth. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

Customer Reviews

The Best Yet

I've listened to Bonobo since, well, as long as they've been around, so I'd consider myself a big fan. With that preface, you can understand how strongly I feel about this album when I will unequivocally say that it is the best Bonobo album yet.

More consistent than any of his earlier album's, "Black Sands" may almost feel like a concept album if you're in the right mood and are listening to it end-to-end. The sonic landscapes are amazingly lush here, while still varying from song to song enough to give the album texture and dynamism.

All in all, probably the best single album I've found in over a year. I can't highly recommend it enough, and you're missing an amazing listening experience if you pass this one up.

Brilliant

I cannot get enough of this album. It's rich and interesting. Every time I listen to it I find something new about it.

Can't stop listening!

I found out about Bonobo from Aweditorium on my iPad and was instantly hooked. Now I own every one of his albums. Great musician.

Biography

Born: March 30, 1976 in Leeds, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

With the experimental warmth of '60s French films and the pizzicato flavor of horizontal hip-hop, Simon Green's Bonobo project established the welcome niche of a pretension-free, post-party intellectual chillout. An almost silent figure among Ibizian romanticists, Green began in Brighton, debuting in 1999 with a track on Tru Thoughts Recordings' When Shapes Join Together compilation. Though tempted by offers from Mute and XL after the official issue of "The Scuba EP" and the "Terrapin" single, Green...
Full Bio
Black Sands, Bonobo
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Customer Ratings

Contemporaries

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