In 2013, not long after Big Shot interviewed downtempo bon vivant Simon “Bonobo” Green on the rooftop of a building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (watch the video interview here), he released his acclaimed fifth album, The North Borders and embarked on a nonstop tour around the world. Festivals. Club gigs. DJ sets. Name the city and Green and his band probably performed there — twice. An important musical statement in the arc of his career, Black Sands (watch Green explain how the album came together here) is where Green veered his sound in a darker, glitchier direction after arriving at a musical fork in the road. Having no doubt become a platinum member of his preferred airline, it’s no surprise that his sixth album, Migration (Ninja Tune), is a byproduct of his many travels and experiences. It’s also informed by his feelings about living as a Brit in New York outside of his native UK.
Migration is ambitious but not nearly as transformative as its predecessor. It didn’t need to be. The album finds him elevating his sound to a new plateau, one where he displays his seasoned mastery of conjuring thoughtful, compelling songs with sublime melodies and luscious instrumentation.
Green’s “No Reason”collaboration with Nick Murphy (f.k.a. Chet Faker) is pleasing, but he’s at his most brilliant when he’s heads down and cooking for the ‘heads. “Second Sun” is an emotive instrumental overflowing with cinematic strings and heartfelt guitar; the woozy “Grains” featuring snippets of folk music icon Pete Seeger is a case study in how to conjure understated euphoria; and “Kerala” is a quixotic, jittery sample track that skips along with perfectly placed samples from R&B songstress Brandy.
What’s next for Green is already known — he’s heading back on the road. Again. What’s certain is that whatever he sees and feels will manifest itself into the next chapter of his musical life. Safe travels, Simon.
Hard to believe as it may be for those who have been following the label since its inception, Ninja Tune is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There’s obviously been a lot of water under the bridge over the course of that extremely eventful quarter-century, so when it came time to plan a proper celebration, the NT folks must have thought long and hard about choosing the musical talent to make their birthday festivities come alive. And it looks like they came up with some pretty damn decent choices.
There will actually be a whole series of events this fall to celebrate the label’s 25th, including a show in Amsterdam, three in London (with Actress, King Midas Sound vs. Fennesz, and others), and one at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, featuring The Bug, Earth and others. But be on the alert for the November 21 warehouse party in L.A. that boasts Bonobo, Sepalcure and Eamon Harkin of Mister Saturday Night, to name a few. The location? Shhh, it’s a secret! Ticket buyers will only find out where to go the week of the show.
Picking up where he left off with 2010’s acclaimed Black Sands, 2013’s The North Borders found downtempo beatmaster Simon Green (a.k.a. Bonobo) exploring darker, glitchier beats and collaborating with the likes of Erykah Badu and an array of rising talent. Since releasing his latest and greatest Green has gone on to crisscross the world, playing major festivals to sold-out club shows and bringing his magical grooves to 2 million people. His travels and performances have been documented on an upcoming new live album and DVD, The North Borders Tour – Live.
Set for release October 7 on Ninja Tune, the 11-track album opens with his breakthrough track “Cirrus” and features appearances by Szjerdene (“Towers,” “Heaven For The Sinner”) and Andreya Triana on the utterly gorgeous “Stay The Same.”
The album will be available in a variety of physical formats:
This live album will be released in deluxe packaging with a CD, a 70 page hardback book of photographs and stories from members of the band, as well as a bonus DVD featuring glimpses of hi-speed photography. There will be standalone CD and 2LP edition too, it’s an exhaustive, beautifully captured record of the show. The audio and video were recorded and filmed at The Roundhouse in London and in the incredible Pula Arena, a genuine Roman Amphitheatre. In addition, some of the tracks on CD are handpicked from breathtaking live radio sessions that happened whilst on tour. Packaged with the DVD will be moments of documentary footage filmed as the tour reached California.
If you’re itching to get your hands on new Bonobo material and can’t wait until October, Ninja Tune recently issued Bonobo’s “Ten Tigers” single, which features “Duals,” an unreleased Bonobo track from The North Borders recording sessions.
Check our 2013 interview with Green shot in Brooklyn and watch a teaser for the DVD below.
2. Towers feat. Szjerdene
3. Stay The Same feat. Andreya Triana
6. Ten Tigers
10. Heaven For The Sinner feat. Szjerdene
New York-based producer FaltyDL (a.k.a. Drew Lustman) has announced the upcoming release of his latest full-length, In the Wild, out via Ninja Tune on August 12. He’s also collaborated with British artist Chris Shen to flesh out the album’s concept about releasing his music “into the wild.” The first track off the album is “Do Me,” a crafty sample jam based around a highly insistent vocal snippet. An accompanying video for the track features NYC dance crew W.A.F.F.L.E. — who are known for consistently disrupting any semblance of peace a subway rider can wish to have when the board a train — dancing to “Do Me” on the subway in New York City. FaltyDL will support the release by kicking off his summer/fall tour in June and will play select dates with Bonobo. He has penned a poem in honor of his upcoming album. So grab a cup of tea and take it in.
“In The Wild”
Upon a mountaintop in Port Lligat I found my true love.
We wrapped each other Uptight,
never will I forget so much regret.
Do Me is truth is progress is death is pain is boredom is sex is dance is silence is void.
Nine is eternal stream is people is family is anger is fight is father is not all.
Heart & Soul is female is more anger is ignorance is blisters on sun soaked lips.
Greater Antilles is two parts masculine one part crystalline structures.
Ahead the Ship Sleeps in Danger is Grief resolved through Rolling in New Haven.
Dos Gardenias para ti.
Post-stroke vernacular, insult to salt intake fake injury to resume sideline spectatorship.
Strained precision, illegal decision and fat masterbatorial visions.
Vapid vaper-what never signed up, tell a lie, till the day I die.
Ghost written by Shanghai Den,
Very best, Falty
Simon Green, the one-man musical force behind Bonobo, broke out in a big way with his 2010 downtempo masterpiece Black Sands, an acclaimed album whose impact was unexpected but much deserved. Nearly four years later, Green, a Brit who now calls Brooklyn home, has turned heads once again with The North Borders, an album that finds him exploring darker, glitchier beats and collaborating with the likes of Erykah Badu and an array of rising talents.
Before setting off on his world tour supporting the new release, we caught up with Green on a rooftop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and asked him to talk about the creative path he traveled on in order to go from Black Sands to 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