Black Sands, the eagerly anticipated fourth album from Simon Green AKA Bonobo, is no revolutionary change from his signature sound but does come with perhaps even more subtlety and complexity than his previous offerings. Having constantly instilled a degree of integrity and value back into chillout music following the influx of Cafe Del Mar and Coffeeshop compilations, Green once again displays a musicianship that sets him apart as a true artist and producer amongst a sea of downtempo and chillout DJs.
His undeniably clear understanding of composition and arrangement of live instruments has enabled Green to make an album that reaches out through diverse styles, taking influence and inspiration from wherever possible. On Black Sands, Green delves into electronic music and bass more than he did across Animal Magic, Dial “M” For Monkey or Days To Come but does so with enough subtlety and finesse to refrain from causing a radical shift in his product.
Tracks like “Kiara,” “We Could Forever” and “All In Forms” all utilise beats and bass in a more contemporary outlook than we are used to with Bonobo. Of course the instrumental feel is still there for all to see. Title track “Black Sands” takes this position for almost seven minutes of a horn infused waltz whereas “Kong” assumes the traditional soul-jazz Bonobo take and “Animals” lets delicate drum patterns guide us through pleasing tempo shifts. The instrumental vibe is highlighted further in the album’s approach to vocals. Unlike his last album, Days To Come which was littered with vocals, Black Sands houses only three tracks that contain vocals. The breathy vocals of Andreya Triana complete tracks like “Stay the Same” and “The Keeper” turning them in more traditional songs.
Black Sands is another lovingly crafted offering that uses orchestral arrangements but this time merged with more of a dance aesthetic. As he continues to make chillout more credible in his experimental way, it’s no wonder that Bonobo is one of the biggest artists to come from the excellent Ninja Tune.
Review: Tom Jones