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Simon Green, AKA Bonobo, is an artist very much at the peak of his significant powers. His 2010 album ‘Black Sands’ was the high watermark of his career to date; a masterful record, marrying Green’s inimitable melodic genius to cutting edge electronics, bass and drums.
Black Sands went on to sell over 160,000 copies worldwide, and since its release, Bonobo has toured the world with his live band, wowing audiences of thousands at a time with the hypnotic, extended live versions of the album’s tracks. He amassed more than 50 million recorded plays on LastFM and over 300,000 likes on Facebook.
All this comes as the result of over ten years hard work, and five albums that have honed Green’s skills. A born musician, Green – like many artists – expresses himself most articulately via his music. The result is that his work is always keenly felt, and always feels imperative. There are no wasted moments, and always myriad great ones.
It’s tempting to relate Green’s yearning, emotive aesthetic to his upbringing in rural Hampshire. His move to Brighton is also an influence; his skill at drum programming perhaps harking back to his days DJing and producing in the small, musically fertile town. Under the initial guidance of Tru Thoughts’ Rob Luis and at nights such as Phonic:hoop, Bonobo found an early education in music.
His first album – 2000’s ‘Animal Magic’ – was released via Tru Thoughts before being picked up by Ninja Tune. It announced him as a serious talent; able to bring a true musician’s edge to electronic music, with all the freedom that skill allowed. His subsequent albums for Ninja, Dial M for Monkey and Days to Come, developed his sensibility, won him fans across the globe, and saw him develop his live show into a mesmeric re-working of his records.
He also worked hard as a DJ, a part of Green’s arsenal that perhaps truly came into its own at the same time as Black Sands was generally welcomed as his best album to date. 2012 saw Green take the uptempo, club re-edits of Black Sands from a seminal Boiler Room performance in London to dance floors across the world, and unveil a new light show that further enhanced the impact of these stunning songs. A remix album was released featuring reworkings by fans and peers such as Machinedrum, Floating Points, Mark Pitchard, Lapalux and Falty DL.
Later the same year, he finally settled down in his New York studio to write his fifth studio album. Now, in 2013, he stands ready to take things up yet another notch. The North Borders is another long stride forward – both a natural evolution and a continuation of the electronic palette of Black Sands. Thematic, resonant, addictive and perfectly formed, it’s a thrillingly coherent statement piece. With vocal features from no less than Erykah Badu, as well as Grey Reverend (Cinematic Orchestra) and Cornelia (Portico Quartet) it’s another finely balanced body of work, leaving room for the beautiful, rich productions themselves to breathe and shine.
Bonobo has a long history of unearthing new talent (Andreya Triana, Bjaika) and The North Borders sees him do so once again. The startling vocals of new collaborator Szjerdine are sprinkled across the North Borders, and Green has yet again found the perfect voice to enhance where he’s at.
With a huge run of international tour dates set to commence shortly after the album’s Spring release date, plus a host of weighty press and radio campaigns and a bleeding edge online campaign, 2013 looks set to be Simon Green’s year, which is very good news for the rest of us, too.