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"Black Sands"

Bonobo – Black Sands
01 April 2010, 11:00 Written by Gina Louise
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Simon Green is an enchantingly confusing character. Parading around under the moniker of a nymphomaniacal monkey and looking consistently suicidal merely adds to the enigma surrounding his mercilessly perplexing music style, and I always emerge from a stint listening to Bonobo feeling a little disorientated. I’m never sure whether I should be high, on a horrendous come down or having tea with granny. Yet I suppose it doesn’t really matter: whatever its aim, it never fails to impress.Black Sands starts with an overture befitting of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, and is a medley of strings whose melody endures throughout the album. In a matter of seconds, a relentless mesh of romantic notions is conveyed. Being amongst the overly cynical, it is a relief when the pastoral sounds blend into the more electronically based ‘Kiara’, whose foot-tapping bass sets the precedent for the succeeding album.‘Kong’ is so rife with samples it can almost be mistaken for an Avalanches tune, and is a sporadic mess of electronic and acoustic sounds. The unpredictable manipulation of volume and interchanging instruments is perhaps the first indication that Bonobo has moved away from his standard linear approach to introducing samples in his music, and has begins hurling them at you relentlessly from every angle.‘Eyesdown’ sounds like an escapee from the Massive Attack's Heliogland, bringing a trippy, hazy dose of electronica to the album. It is the first of Adrianna Trianna’s contributions, which transform the otherwise muddled songs into a minimalistic, driven soundtrack. Her soulful voice is alluringly understated, and the contradicting dancefloor beat and intrusive percussion make these tracks refreshingly original. The albums single ‘The Keeper’ is a sleuth-like down-tempo number that takes full advantage of Trianna’s sultry husk of a voice.The album then takes an unexpected turn into ‘We Could Forever’, which comprises of a congo-line inducing beat, Balearic sounds and a host of apt field noises. The album gets a little experimental, with more weird and wonderful instruments making appearances, yet the tone is pretty consistent throughout. Bonobo does what he does best, and creates music perfectly balanced breakbeats and electronic chill out.When the title track finishes up, I am, as always with a Bonobo album, left in a state of utter confusion, not whether to dance, laugh, or curl up into a ball and rock back and forth; but it has been worth it. The album takes you on a journey that always leads somewhere interesting, even if you’re not quite sure where you end up.
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