Bonobo is a gem in the British electronic music scene. He makes genre-crossing laidback tunes which have achieved commercial success without selling out. Now on his fifth album, he’s maintained integrity and further explored his love of capturing weird and wonderful sounds and mutating them into mesmerising electronica, all with a deft nod to the trip-hop of the nineties. His latest album, ‘The North Borders’ was released in April. What has he been up to and what is he doing next?
Innovative to the last, Bonobo uses found sounds like trucks reversing, messes around with them digitally and builds them into densely packed tracks which splinter and slide through any attempt at definition. On this latest album, he’s enlisted the help of the inimitable Erykah Badu to add a tantalising vocal line on ‘Heaven For The Sinner’, the result is sultry and seductive. The intangibility of the music finds strangely complimentary expression in the physical releases themselves. The album artwork by Leif Podhajsky has Podhajsky’s usual blend of the abstract and the natural, his cosmic landscapes fit the album perfectly. The vinyl release for the single, ‘Cirrus’, is something else altogether! Check out this video by bespoke packaging gurus Think Tank
The zoetrope picture disc looks incredible and the special edition vinyl is understandably much sought after. It’s another splendid feather in Think Tank’s burgeoning hat.
Bonobo has a habit of working with the best in every field. The official video for Cirrus by Cyriak is equally both bewildering and brilliant. Take a look:
Bonobo on record and Bonobo live are two distinctly separate entities. You could be forgiven for thinking the man is a laptop genius only and whilst he is known to crack out a stellar DJ set, it’s for his live shows that he’s rightly famed. He puts together live bands with some pretty incredible musicians. The following video is from a show he played earlier in the year at Koko in London. It’s the full set, so sit back and relax if you’ve got an hour to spare:
If that’s whet your appetite, you can catch a more recent live session with Bonobo in for Gilles Peterson on 6 Music last month.
If you’re heading to any festivals this summer, there are a few at which you can catch Bonobo performing. Beacons in the UK, Lowlands in the Netherlands and Pukkelpop in Belgium all have Bonobo on their bills. If you’re looking for something extra-special, Dimensions festival in Croatia looks set to steal the crown for the best summer festival and with a super-special opening night in an amphitheatre with Bonobo’s full live band headlining and backed up by Mount Kimbie, Portico Quartet and Andrew Ashong, we’re sure no one will leave disappointed. It’s a cracking line-up of dedicated and ambitious young producers; having them all on the same bill is bound to produce something special.
We’re pretty excited about the calibre of British producers at the moment, with up-and-coming artists breaking through all the time and more established acts like Bonobo signalling the way with their individuality and honest approach to sound and expression. The underground and mainstream are merging in an unprecedented way, it’s a new cosmic landscape we’re both proud and honoured to see developing and long may it continue.