Image: Ninja Tune
It’s been a whole four years since Bonobo’s last full length release, Migrations. In the time between though, he hasn’t been particularly quiet. 2019 saw him assume mix duties for fabric London’s ongoing fabric presents mix series, with his presence being particularly groundbreaking and left field for the fabric brand. His mix would reignite the previously titled and much loved fabriclive, and Bonobo would be the artist to usher in a new phase for the DJ mix/compilation project while also signaling a diversification or evolution of sorts in fabric’s approach to their selectors. fabric presents Bonobo ultimately proved divisive, but it thrust Bonobo back into the cultural conversation.
The British producer, real name Simon Green, is best known for a particularly mellow style of electronica that walks the line between chillwave and micro-house while being entirely accessible in a pop sort of way. His music is enamoured with emotive flourishes and sumptuous melodies, finding moments of solitude and meditative atmosphere. Slated for release on January 4th, his upcoming album for Ninja Tune, Fragments promises to be “one of the crossover electronic records of the year” and “Bonobo’s masterpiece.” Our first taste of Fragments arrives by way of its two singles, Rosewood and the more recent Tides. The two tracks gesture toward a record that may be his most sonically diverse to date. Tides with Jamila Woods is most characteristic of his style; a gently strummed guitar riff trips beneath layers of gyroscopic arp synth sounds, but it’s Woods’s vocals threaded through this that turns Tides into a soft, breathless ballad.
Rosewood meanwhile is the closest Green has come to pure house music. A textured, gravelly 90s four on the floor throbs at the core of the track which is markedly higher in tempo than the usual Bonobo faire. Easily the most interesting of the two, Rosewood offers a hint toward the new sorts of shapes Bonobo’s sound may take on Fragments.
With the album being touted as a master stroke for Green, expectations are bound to be high upon its arrival. The hope is that this buzz won’t ultimately dim the experience, as is often the case with much hyped releases. The disparate tone between the two singles offers some insight into the direction. Already, this album feels larger in scope than Migrations, whose music mostly played along the same aesthetic and tonal wavelength. Whatever Fragments might hold for the next phase of Bonobo feels promising, and now all that’s left to do is wait to see how these fragments form part of the larger picture.
Pre-order ‘Fragments’ here
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