Bonobo: The North Borders

bonobo-thenorthborders-leif_800Having listened to, and enjoyed their former album, Black Sands, I was very pleased to see that Bonobo had dropped a new album this March. I immediately got my hands on The North Borders, remembering old tracks like ‘Kong’ and ‘El Toro’ and knowing that I was in for something exciting. Just glancing at the track listing I could already imagine the variety of flavors and textures that would be present in this new work. The album showcases four different featured artists, including Szjerdene, Cornelia, and Grey Reverend, as well as one of my all-time favorite vocalists. When I saw ‘Heaven for the Sinner (Ft. Erykah Badu)’ (which is one of the coolest 3/4 meter tracks I’ve heard in years), I knew instantly that the track had sexy written all over it. I pressed play and began my listening from the beginning, only to find that the entire album is musical coitus.

The first track, ‘First Fires (Ft. Grey Reverend)’ sets the tone for this whole album, with aching vocals, the slow progression of melancholy chords backed by heart-melting strings. It was an unexpected opening, certainly not one that I was used to, but a powerful start to a collection of unquestionably solid songs. The sound is reminiscent of early Burial throughout, with that relaxed and sometimes dark tone, intelligent structure, eclectic instrumentation, and well developed triumphant scenes. Like any great electronic trip-hop, Bonobo’s methodically repetitive nature is progressively engaging and moving.

Yes, The North Borders is nothing short of a completely satisfying experience for me, and it’s got some of my favorite friends in it: vibraphone (‘Towers’), saxophone (‘Emkay’), thumb-harp (‘Cirrus’), flutes (‘Antenna’), strings (all over the damn place), and vintage-sounding vocal samples (‘Know You’), all incorporated into the music in such a tasteful manner that the listener is pleasantly stimulated. Personally, this was the perfect spring break jam for me; it didn’t matter if I was on a 6-hour car-ride to the beach with my family, playing board games with my friends, or just painting by myself in the early morning- this music makes you feel badass, and does a good job of grabbing your attention.

Really, I don’t know how else to say it: This shit is cool as hell. It’s a must-have, one of those albums that secures Bonobo’s place as an unmistakable talent in the musical world…10/10

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