Album: Migration (2017)
For many European high school graduates, it is requirement to enjoy a ‘gap year’ or time abroad which will further self-discovery, and provide a variety of new experiences. Migration by Bonobo, is Simon Green’s strongest record released to date. Inspired by travel, and rejuvenated like a student returning from gap year, Migration is filled with freshness, life, exploration, and discovery. A letting go of the old, and becoming aware to the new for Green. I remember the first Bonobo song that I ever heard. It was the final track off of Black Sands. I remember how it captivated me like a good movie, or a story being told. It changed the way I thought of electronic music. It was eagerly replayed, then played again. This lead me to the music vault which was the collection of artists on Ninjatune’s record label.
Migration has been influenced by Greens travels and the exploration and development from his 2013 latest release on The North Borders, is profound. After the travels He now finds himself living in California where he will be able to collaborate, produce, and make new connections in his music. It has always been understood that Green has an impeccable talent for scaffolding and constructing layers in downtempo electronic music. There is new selection and diversity of samples that Green has incorporated in Migration. Upon first listen, Green has provided many stand out moments of tension and release within the tracks; they are intertwined and arranged beautifully as a fluid whole album; regardless of variety between tracks. In many ways Migration transports the listener to varying sonic environments distilled with elements of the familiar, as well as a new flavours less often found in downtempo electronic. Flavours more found in the chants, melodies, and instrumentation of World music (a somewhat meaningless ‘genre’ of music; meaning anything not American-but is pseudo-representative of the new direction on Migration)
One of the strength Migration gains from this wide range of sound, is the gift of accessibility. Not only are there moments which will appeal to most ears, the variety of sound is accommodating, and welcoming to new listeners. Just as it was for me the first time I heard Black Sands. ‘Kearla’ is the song I think posses the best example of the catchiness and musicality of the album. But the following song ‘Ontario’ is a close second with it’s slow suitar, and piano, then speckled with bells, chimes, and strings. While the track, ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ features the sounds of Moroccan Band Innov Gnawa.
These sounds are not found in Animal Magic (2000), Black Sands (2010), and The North Borders (2013), but the new exposure on Migration marks Greens tremendous musical risk, growth, and understanding of his capabilities as an artist. This is new territory, not only for Green, but in many ways for western lo-fi, downtempo, electronic music. With Migration, Green has forged new sonic opportunities in a genre—much like county—plagued with stereotypes of being non-inventive, repetitive, and requiring less artistic skills, than other genres.
As mentioned before, it is not all progressive. Migration posses the elements of the familiar. There are three american features from artists such as smooth crooner Ryhe, on the track ‘Break Apart’. Other vocal feature include Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker) on ‘No Reason’. As well as Floridian singer Nicole Miglis of Hundred Water. These features seem like very logical pairings. They compliment the slowly unfolding, all the while expansive, downtempo approach in Bonobo’s musical arsenal. That being said, for me, ’No Reason’, is the least alluring song on the album. At first it seems catchy although melancholy, but soon seems endless lasts 7.29 minutes of repetitiveness. Perhaps this is what Green intended; as it will nonetheless be remixed and sampled in clubs across the states and Europe; as that is what the song naturally lends itself to.
Migration posses new challenges for the live Bonobo shows, the instrumentation is more diverse and less pragmatic. It is the most energetic Bonobo album (piano, and symphony seemed to work well with the sleepier previous albums). Floating with the rising popularity, and capacity for creativity Green posses; surely the Migration world tour will be more enigmatic, joyful, and crowded with new fans in the year to come.