Bonobo – The North Borders
The fifth LP from Brighton’s Bonobo (aka Simon Green) opens in understated style, as Grey Reverend’s brooding vocals overlay the gently shimmering dubstep of First Fires. It's characteristic of an artist who has patiently honed a distinctive sound, drawing on elements of jazz and garage; the success Green has quietly assimilated is evident in the presence of Erykah Badu, whose voice is merged with a cluster of harp, strings and brass on the melancholy Heaven for the Sinner.
Even by Bonobo’s standards, the shadowy atmosphere of such pieces is particularly pronounced on The North Borders; but Green still finds space to indulge in more uptempo moods: Emkay marries garage beats and vocal samples with mellow brass chords, while the percussive bells of Cirrus recall the melodic, layered shuffles of Four Tet. Ultimately, however, this is another exercise in delicacy and restraint, and it amply demonstrates the value of both.