Bonobo – Fragments

Bonobo cranks up the club beats in his latest foray into wistful, cathartic electronica

Album Review by Becca Inglis | 10 Jan 2022
  • Bonobo – Fragments
Album title: Fragments
Artist: Bonobo
Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: 14 Jan

After wrestling with writer's block through lockdown, Simon Green, aka Bonobo, has resurfaced with a masterpiece in wistful, cathartic electronica, his seventh studio album Fragments.

One criticism of Bonobo’s last record, Migration, was that Green failed to take his well-trodden downtempo formula in a new direction. Not so with Fragments. Its title refers to the ideas that he struggled to perfect alone, which only came unstuck through collaborations with artists like Jamila Woods, Joji and Jordan Rakei. These link ups offer new flavours to his contemplative stamp, making this his most club-ready album. 

Influences from Detroit house, especially Theo Parrish, emerge on Rosewood and Sapien, while a pootling synth on Shadows resembles Mr Scruff. The biggest surprise is Otomo, where O’Flynn has transformed Bonobo’s sample of Bulgarian choir 100 Kaba-Gaidi into a pulsing arrangement with an 808 drop and compulsive beat. The choir raises its voice to a wail as O’Flynn’s bass roars through, together evoking the euphoria of the dancefloor that Bonobo was missing last year.

True to form, Bonobo builds a heart-rending motif throughout the record from looped waves of Lara Somogyi’s harp, in particular on Elysian and Tides. ‘We won’t be dry soon, here come the tides’, sings Jamila Woods, encapsulating the ebb and flow of nature, of lockdowns, and of unprecedented times. Bonobo has constructed a bittersweet yet hopeful companion to this late stage of the pandemic, holding space both for grief and a blissful renewal.

Listen to: Tides, Otomo, Closer