Bonobo
The North Borders


4.5
superb

Review

by Olivier De Clercq CONTRIBUTOR (40 Reviews)
March 25th, 2013 | 494 replies


Release Date: 04/01/2013 | Tracklist


Following in the footsteps of Daniel Snaith and Kieran Hebden last year, Simon Green (aka Bonobo) again broadens his scope and delivers his most diverse album yet. Predecessor Black Sands stretched his palette of trip-hop beats as far as it could, so on The North Borders Bonobo extends his signature subdued sound in the most surprising but logical way possible: by head-on tackling the dance floor. The Pantha du Prince-meets-Four Tet house vibe of 'Cirrus' is the most prominent proponent of this, and anyone who heard it already knows it works wonders. By avoiding instantaneous explosions of fake euphoria, and offering instead an organic buildup with no real resolution, Bonobo stays true to the essence of what made his music so likeable in the past. Elsewhere, 'Sapphire' and especially 'Know You', with their lush piano / synthesizer blurs, longing chopped-up vocal samples and a two-step rhythm straight from Untrue, show off Green's exciting take on garage music, and could have easily been included on Phaeleh's stellar album, Fallen Light.

Another clear point of reference is the futuristic hip-hop template from the Brainfeeder label, especially when the glitchy percussion and artificial vinyl crackle on 'Heaven For The Sinner' is backed by the unique and always astounding vocals of soul princess Erykah Badu. Admittedly, there's a lot of namedropping going on in this little blurb of text, but don't be tempted to think that Bonobo is getting lazy and is just aping his peers nowadays. The songs on The North Borders are just too darn good on their own merit for them to be labeled as derivative. As with his previous work, Green shows he has a keen eye for detail - every drum pattern, synth lead or sampled water droplet is tweaked to aural perfection - and the man knows how to actually distil precious life in his tracks. It's those two feats that still set Bonobo above the already fierce competition.

Then, to counteract the influx of new styles he previously largely ignored, Green positions 'Jets', an astonishing instrumental track and surely the clear highlight of The North Borders, straight at the heart of the album, as to remind us how far he's progressed since he first started as a producer of chilled-out trip-hop in the late 90's. Bonobo's new record is at the core still very much indebted to the sound of his early material and doesn't hold any drastic changes per se. But that's just how evolution works: one little baby step at a time. And look where it brought us. So just let time decide where this particular monkey will go next. Returning to The North Borders as a snapshot of Bonobo's continuing journey, it's both very forward thinking and staying true to tradition; restless but comfortable, lighthearted and deep. And it's quite possibly the best thing released all year.



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user ratings (248)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2013


6448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I just can't get over how fucking good this thing is.

- Cirrus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi1yym2dCKI
- Jets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPZn1YzS61A
- Know You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAg_vUC0UlQ

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lou1000
March 25th 2013


973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best of the year so far.

Digging: Florian Hecker - Sun Pandamonium

coneren
March 25th 2013


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

what is this aids suck its dick

alachlahol
March 25th 2013


7489 Comments


probly getin overhyped yet again

demigod!
March 25th 2013


44445 Comments


heard a bunch of this the other day and it sounded great

I was really high though

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

oltnabrick
March 25th 2013


30848 Comments


Wow but it rules

Digging: Prurient - Bermuda Drain

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2013


10204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

How can I hear this?

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2013


6448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You can buy it off the Ninja Tune store. That's how I got this (for a change). No stream, I think.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 25th 2013


10204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Sweet! I'll have to look into it, thanks man. Sounds really promising.

lou1000
March 25th 2013


973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

There was a good quality leak. Not sure if it's still around.

RadicalEd
March 25th 2013


2649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Do you here that?

Choooooooooooo-Choooooooooooooooo

Hype train incoming.

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

FelixCulpa
March 25th 2013


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Swell review clercqie. Still only listened to this once and I don't really have a well formed opinion on the album except that everything about Cirrus fucking rules.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2013


6448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Everyone that doesn't hop on doesn't know what they're missing.

Thanks, Felix!

Keyblade
March 25th 2013


14846 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

prolly my aoty after mbv. seriously, it's that good. great review man

Digging: Strawberry Switchblade - Strawberry Switchblade

RadicalEd
March 25th 2013


2649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just checked a few songs and they sounded alright, but not 4.5 material on first listen. But i will listen more after Rory Gallagher.

Typhoner
March 25th 2013


852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

to-the-point review

I just started listening to Bonobo a few weeks ago but I like his older stuff. I also like Four Tet and Phaeleh, so this can't go wrong, right?

Digging: Banks - Goddess

RadicalEd
March 25th 2013


2649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh yeah. Review is awesome btw. Pos'd

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2013


6448 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys!

Yeah Ty, you really can't go wrong with any of his stuff, but you'll surely like this one. :]

scissorlocked
March 25th 2013


3510 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well, he's an awesome artist but some albums of his kinda bored me

this is pretty good though

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
March 25th 2013


2714 Comments


Great album. Dunno about the amount of 4.5's - it's lacking a bit of an edge for me. Up there for the top of the year so far for sure, though.



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