Bonobo, The North Borders

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 03.26.13 in Reviews
Rarefied headphones music to be played loud and often

In a contemporary world of electronica seemingly in thrall to the sleek, serrated-edged futurism of Flying Lotus, Bonobo is a welcome anachronism. The UK dance producer born Simon Green specializes in beats that are warm, mellow and swathed in vinyl-style crackles; his deft digitalia sounds sweetly, quaintly analog. The easiest shorthand would be to label his oeuvre as ambient downbeat, or even chillout, but this undersells the ferocious intelligence and meticulous attention to detail that pulses beneath his gentle rhythms. On his fifth studio album, he once more appears intent on capturing and channeling the profound moments of still, intimate reflection that can follow nights of wild hedonistic and/or narcotic abandon. There are shades of James Blake’s spooked, narcoleptic electro-pop on opener “First Fires,” with guest vocals from New York neo-folkie Grey Reverend, while the agitated yet spectral “Transits,” featuring the siren tones of newcomer Szjerdene, recalls the under-celebrated 1990s mistress of drum-and-bass-tinged comedown pop, Nicolette. Best of all is the suitably divine “Heaven for the Sinner,” on which Erykah Badu┬áladles her preternaturally honeyed tones over quick-stepping beats like a hypnotically alluring ghost in the machine. This is rarefied headphones music to be played loud, and often.