I’m happily, snuggly ensconced in, “help, I can’t stop listening to Bonobo” territory. It’s comfortable here. It’s also familiar; yet again, the master of the electronics has pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
‘Fragments’ is the latest album from the artist. Bonobo’s sound-manipulating reputation precedes him, and his standard, big-name contacts list is in play here on this new record.
We’ve got the more commercial ‘Shadows’ with Jordan Rakei, alongside the wistful Joji collab, ‘From You’. Of course, these two remain complete belters, but it’s probably ‘Tides’, peppered with the angelic vocals of Jamila Woods, that grips me the most.
Meanwhile, the opener, ‘Polyghost’, has been produced with help from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and I can feel the deep-rooted drama of the strings bringing on goosebumps. This particular piece is a short, mystifying journey that completely draws you into what’s to come on the 12-song album.
It’s when we get talking about the purely instrumental offerings that I can probably wax even more lyrical. I’ve been a fan of ‘Rosewood’ since its release as a single, but there are so many sweet elements to this record that segment off the collaborations and shine a light on Bonobo’s deft skill as a solo artist.
‘Closer’ and ‘Age of Phase’ really come to the fore in this regard, but it’s probably ‘Elysian’ that steals the show for me. Its genteel beauty is quintessentially Bonobo, yet you could imagine it in a soundtrack to both a period drama and a dystopian, there’s-nobody-left saga. It’s the sort of powerful music, with its orchestral styles in parts, that render me speechless.
There was so much punch to 2010’s ‘Black Sands’ — maybe a little deserved swagger in places. It was bombastic and it’ll remain one of my favourite albums, but when you line it up against ‘Fragments’, the fragility of Bonobo’s honed craft is really laid bare on this recent LP.
What he’s dabbled with and refined over the years has led him to a position whereby he doesn’t have to create the loud and feisty; Bonobo can deliver us more subtle, nuanced tunes that we lap up just as much.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Elysian’ or ‘Closer’