Album Review: Bonobo / ‘The North Borders’ (Ninja Tune)

Bonobo The North Borders


Simon Green broadens an established electronic compass with exceptional composure. Beginning with opening track “First Fires” you may be expecting something reclusive, hardened by the cold or quietly embittered. Instead it’s a balance of the honest — Bonobo dotting the sunshine with blackspots — and the tender and reassuring, burning incense and burbling at one with nature. With an embrace always available within a layout of organic meets electronic via an orchestral-folk double team, Green’s emotional awareness is never grandiose but always provides a crutch to lean on.

At the album’s core, a chime structure links rustically refined club grooves and “Emkay” doing picture postcard two-step for the discerning headphone wearer. Acting as a key cog to a chain of instrumental events, set off in perfect synch from a perfectionist’s tool shed, it makes the folk elements and wooded components intertwine with a satisfying snap through styles. Post-dubstep/après-bass roll “Know You” makes light of the heaviness crowding round it, neo-soul-improver “Antenna” chases butterflies to extend the footloose feeling, and hip-hop conscious instrumentals “Jets” and “Ten Tigers” safeguard a richness that stays limber.

Biting its tongue at noodly or twee, being in touch with on-trend sounds gets to nestling comfortably inside your head while introducing themselves to your soul. Beats to picnic by, for messing about on the river to, or hiding away with – and that’s not to forget the requisite alerting of advertising strategists along the way.

File under: Andreya Triana, Zero dB, Four Tet

Matt Oliver

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