Label: Ninja Tunes
Released: Out Now!
Genre: Ambient / Electronica / Downtempo / House
Simon Green aka Bonobo has been around now for some time, and this is his sixth album which is available now on Ninja Tunes. His first couple of albums may have passed you by whilst he was forming his sound but since his album, ‘The North Borders’ he has been hitting all the right notes with his work. His first album, ‘Animal Magic’ would probably best be described as downtempo electronica, and I feel Simon Green has always struggled with vocal production until I started to listen to his latest album, ‘Migration’. This is without a doubt his best album to date by a long way, and that is saying something considering ‘The North Borders’ was such a big success.
The journey begins with the title track, ‘Migration’ which is a beautiful piano-led number that would not be out of place on Erased Tapes, as it instantly transports me to productions by the likes of Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. It certainly has that contemporary classical feel about it and it is a sound that will certainly grab the attention of a lot of music lovers out there. ‘Break Apart’ which features the stunning soothing vocals of Rhye leads on perfectly from the opening track. It almost reminds me of the early Rae and Christian tracks on ‘Northern Sulphuric Soul’ which would just soothe every inch of your mind. What I would do to hear Bonobo work with Beverley Green (Veba) who sang on those early Rae and Christian Albums! This track really is a first glimpse that Green has finally matched some stunning vocals with his outstanding production skills.
‘Outliner’ sees Green keep that downtempo vibe but with more of a Burialesque sound to his productions. Again, as you would expect the production is tight, and the beautifully cascading vocals and lazy beats work in perfect harmony. This is easily one of the highlights on the album for me. Next up is ‘Grains’ which has a deep and glitchy effected vocal that slowly builds around some swelling chords before those stunning Bonobo beats hit you. I would love to hear this played at Cafe Mambo when the sun is setting, it would be a perfect way to end the day.
The track ‘Second Sun’ is a string-laden journey through classicalesque soundscapes and blissed out vibes. The pure quality in this production is proof how far this man has come over the past few years. Maybe his move to LA has helped. Who knows, but this is a track that simply blew my socks off with its pure beauty!
‘Surface’ featuring the stunning vocals by Nicole Miglis is another fine example of how far Green has some with his production of vocals. Imagine what could be coined as a pop style song but produced with the pure class and production excellence of Bonobo… a perfect blend! Stunning production! ‘Bambro Koya Ganda’ has a great African style vocal chanting which I just love. This sees Green get back to the more housey sound, and a little more dance floor influenced. It certainly got my head nodding. Imagine the deep dubby sounds of Aus music and Will Saul and you won’t be far off the mark.
‘Kerala’ begins with some stunning Spanish style strings before you are confronted with samples of US R&B singer Brandy which are abstracted beyond obvious words. Very cleverly done! Her voice and sample if familiar, as you would expect but not enough to diverge into the commercial or cheesy land! I feel only one of a small number of producers could work their magic with such a sample, and Bonobo is clearly one! ‘Ontario’ sees Green return to his older sound with a more hip hop style, downtempo vibe. The track is filled with a beautiful sounding sitar and the beats are meaty, to say the least! When the track begins you will hear a vocal sample… it sounds a little like a beatboxer saying “boots and cats”. Apologies! Had to say it, as it is now stuck in my head! Great track though and a nice nod to his older sound.
For me, the next track, ‘No Reason’ is the absolute stand out track on the album. The vocals of Nick Murphy are incredible and the track is truly stunning. A perfect example of vocalist and producer in perfect harmony. I can imagine a fair few remixes appearing of this track in the very near future. This track leads onto ‘7th Sevens’ which is filled with some stunning percusion and sees Green remain in that downtempo house sound. Again if you like your Aus music sound, you will approve I am sure. Great melodies and the bassline is simpy divine.
The final track on this incredible jounrey of music is ‘Figures’ which sees Green pull out the classical ambient vibe again. The track is laden with gorgeous strings and stunning, angelic like vocal samples. A great way to end what is a truly inspiring album by a man clearly firing on all cilinders. This is the perfect album to sit and compose your thoughts. ‘Migration’ is certainly an improvement on his last album (which was far from a bad album). It is clear Green has learned from where he made errors with ‘The North Borders’. This will be a big album this year, and what a way to start 2017. Thank you Simon Green!