Bonobo is the chosen alias of British-born, LA-based producer Simon Green. The producer is set to release his new album ‘Migration’ tomorrow (January 13th) with a four-month global tour in support of the album starting in February.
The first single ‘Kerala’ is an eclectic mix showcasing Bonobo’s power to combine club beats and distorted samples with the soothing sounds of world music.
We explore his catalogue in anticipation of the new album...
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‘Animal Magic’ (2000)
The foundation on which Bonobo has built his career. As a manifesto it sets Bonobo’s stall out well. Trip-hop beats, steady builds and deep symphonic expressions. These are characteristics that Bonobo would build on later in his career. Far more indebted to the nineties trip-hop scene than his later work, the sounds of Portishead and Massive Attack drip from its ever pore.
It’s repetitive and contrived but at times the songs build into an otherworldly hypnotic bliss, such as on the sumptuous ‘Sleepy Seven’ and the intense ‘Kota’. Released to mixed reviews in 2000, it has gained a cult following amongst Bonobo’s many fans.
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‘Dial ‘M’ For Monkey’ (2003)
A more upbeat affair than it’s predecessor, ‘Dial ‘M’ For Monkey’ was the album that started Bonobo’s slow invasion into the mainstream. The track ‘Flutter’ was picked up for Film4 commercials as well as being used in the soundtrack to EA Sport’s snowboarding video-game SSX On Tour. It’s definitely the star of the show with its textural groove and traditional Indian vibe - a centrepiece that starts to set Bonobo’s global vision.
Cool, jazzy and ambitious it still lacks the original invention of its successors, failing to set itself apart from Bonobo’s Ninja Tunes label mates Mr. Scruff and Kid Koala.
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‘Days To Come’ (2006)
The first album to feature original vocals, ‘Days To Come’ was Bonobo’s most cohesive and expansive album to date. The vocal tracks stand out with well-travelled poet Bajka (born in India to German parents and raised in South Africa) the perfect foil to Bonobo’s globe trotting sound. ‘Nightlite' demands a physical reaction with its propulsive rhythm and precise sonic flutters.
Developing the nu-jazz template set out in ‘Dial ‘M’ For Monkey’, this is the moment roll-necked jazz connoisseurs really started to take notice.
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‘Black Sands’ (2010)
‘Black Sands’ is Bonobo’s beacon of consistency, from the opening strings on ‘Prelude’ to the sky-scraping peaks on it’s title track the album manages to arrest the listener for its duration. As a vocalist young gun Andreya Triana does not have the same gravitas as Bajka but the material behind her vocals is stronger and it’s exotic edge wraps her smoky voice in an air of alluring mystery.
Bonobo whips ‘Animals’ up into a frenzy of cascading rhythms and horns. It’s new-age jazz brought to the carnival. ‘Kiara’ is the stand-out with its soaring strings providing Bonobo’s most delectable ear worm. A classic of the genre, the album stands as Bonobo’s enduring masterpiece.
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‘The North Borders’ (2013)
Bonobo’s latest effort ‘The North Borders’ was his first charting album reaching number 29 on the UK charts. Following in the footsteps of ‘Black Sands’, the album features a collaboration with neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu on the twinkling ‘Heaven For The Sinner’ as well as Swedish Idol dropout Cornelia Dahlgren on ‘Pieces’.
Big-name collaborations aren't all Bonobo has to show for on this album, though, with ‘The North Borders’ demonstrating the producer's breadth, ambition, and subtlety.
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'Migration' will be released on January 13th.
Words: Richard Jones