Album Review: Bonobo, The North Borders

Review by Joseph Ritrievi

When I first learned that Bonobo was releasing his first studio album since 2010 I thought, “Well, I’m sure there’s going to be at least one really dope album coming out in 2013.” Thus far, this is my understatement of the year. 

From its onset The North Borders showcases the multi-layered talents of an artist still evolving, despite the fact that he is already at the absolute pinnacle of his genre. “Emkay” infuses Dub effects into a delicate guitar dance over up-tempo Glitch cadences as the album embarks. Strings texture the kaleidoscopic movement of Bonobo’s newest offering, the North Borders, as the album’s musical mandala emanates from the heart center of its creator.

“Cirrus” is a microcosm demonstrating the depth and intricacy of Bonobo’s musical conceptualization. The music video, directed by Nicolas Devaux, begins as a few clips of random stock video footage are compiled to paint a picture of middle class 1950s America. The video quickly fractals into ever expanding layers of mechanized video clips taking on a life of their own until it culminates into a modern Koyaanisqatsi highlighting the everyday consumerism and repetitiveness of contemporary life. A work of true genius, “Cirrus” immediately catapults the North Borders to “classic” status upon the first few listens.

Bonobo continues to bend rules and intentionally employ his accumulated musical knowledge to reinvent himself with each new project. Almost entirely devoid of vocals The North Borders takes its listener on an ancestral journey through a musical mindscape that opens the consciousness to a continually flowing stream of unfolding ingenuity. Seamlessly blending sample recordings with live instrumentation highlighted by post-production mastery Bonobo has raised the bar for anyone getting into the beat-making game, and has once again left an indelible impression on the musical imagination of a new generation.

Author: Kara

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