A Dark Summer

Review: Bonobo – Black Sands

Over a pint of winter-themed cider, I was sat in the pub with some folks from the Sloucher head office and we were heatedly discussing the ‘End of Year Lists’ for the site.

You see, although Sloucher could probably profess to being ‘quirky’ in almost every respect, when it comes to the hot topic of making lists we’re out there with the best (worst?) of ‘em. Our motto: Occasionally give into peer pressure.

Anyway, without giving too much away (well, ok, giving a little bit away) the subject of Bonobo came up. Now, I for one immediately thought, “Yup yup, Zero-7-ish chill out Ibiza not interested” but my co-worker kept insisting that this was something I was blatantly ignorant to and missing out on. So in the end I gave into peer pressure and have since been eating my thoughts.

My god this album is just so COOL and FUNKY. I realise that makes me sound like your dad but it’s the darn truth.

And it’s not chill-out Ibiza shit at all…hey, I’ve been known to re-play the odd Café Del Mar mix but it’s not 2001 and I’m not listening to Chris Coco.

The most important thing about Black Sands is that it has a multi-layered multifaceted sound with very dense beats and almost dubby basslines, yet the record sounds extremely coherent. In fact, a lot more coherent than previous offerings (alright I’m addicted now, I admit it!) partly due to the sleeker production here.

Most of the songs are instrumental with an intricate mix of samples, electronic sounds and beats and live musicians. The live vocals are provided by Andreya Triana who was blessed with a super sexy voice. The album has a distinctly oriental sound at some points particularly due to the orchestral work (brass section, violins/violas etc), which makes the record a bit darker atmospherically than you first might expect.

This isn’t a difficult album to listen to, but each time you do you are sucked in by complex levels of sound. The title track literally blows my mind; the way it builds to a clattering climax of live drums and clarinet (?) – it sounds almost like avante-garde prog rock to me. You’ve also got jazz and even drum n’bass influences coming through on some tracks. The elaborate melding of the electronics, the samples and extremely accomplished live musicians is very interesting to listen to and means that Black Sands stands out as something a bit unusual.

Black Sands could probably be construed by some as a ‘summer album’ but to me it is so much more, a byzantine and avante-garde piece of work that spans genres, emotions and atmospherics. Did I mention that I like this record?

I’m definitely always occasionally giving into peer pressure again.


Bonobo – ‘Kiara’:

Bonobo @ MySpace
Bonobo Official Website

Bonobo @ Spotify

3 thoughts on “A Dark Summer

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