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Bonobo - Fragments (Album Review)

Friday, 21 January 2022 Written by Alex Myles

It’s hard to distinguish the exact purpose of Bonobo's music. Often inspired by a sense of place, the producer’s typically meditative tracks could, on one hand, soundtrack a wistful gaze into the sunset. On the other, they might be a good fit for a psychedelic rave. Simon Green’s seventh album under the moniker does little to solve this problem.

‘Fragments’ doesn’t diverge from what we’re used to from Bonobo. Green, like proteges Bicep, looks beyond British borders for inspiration—a Bulgarian choir is interpolated on Otomo, a track devised with London producer O’Flynn. 

There's a tangible blend of genres here too, namely R&B, alternative rock, neo-soul and hip-hop. From You, meanwhile, is a diversion into something more unusual as Joji’s droning vocals create a doomy lo-fi aesthetic. 

Usually based in Los Angeles, Green spent time in the American wilderness to record this album, away from the chaos of the pandemic and the 2020 election. That sense of sparseness and tranquillity translates into the record from the offset. 

Collaborating with cult composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on the opening track, there are motifs that come around every so often, such as an arpeggiated harp backed by push-and-pull cinematic strings. As a result ‘Fragments’ bubbles at the surface rather than anything more urgent.

There are stand-out moments, though. Shadows featuring Jordon Rakei, a talented producer in his own right, is mixed beautifully, with pads and synths humming in perfect harmony while electric piano stabs add some welcome tension. Age of Phase is a similarly tight percussive tune and album closer Day by Day is a welcome dip into pop-R&B, with a lovely saxophone refrain to boot. 

But, being so well-versed in downtempo, Green finds it difficult to deviate from its known qualities. ‘Fragments’ is a perfectly passable album that showcases Bonobo’s undeniable craft and talent, but it seems set for some Spotify mediative mix rather than any greater accolades.

Bonobo Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue May 03 2022 - BRIGHTON Centre
Wed May 04 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Fri May 06 2022 - MANCHESTER O2 Victoria Warehouse
Sat May 07 2022 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Sun May 08 2022 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Mon May 16 2022 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Tue May 17 2022 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Wed May 18 2022 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Thu May 19 2022 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

Compare & Buy Bonobo Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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