|Bonobo demonstrates his versatility as well as his ingenuity with his fourth album.|
Sometimes beautiful, sometimes haunting, sometimes repetitive. Totally excellent.
- Prelude 1:18
- Kiara 3:50
- Kong 3:58
- Eyesdown (feat. Andreya Triana) 5:26
- El Toro 3:44
- We Could Forever 4:20
- 1009 4:30
- All In Forms 4:52
- The Keeper (feat. Andreya Triana) 4:49
- Stay The Same (feat. Andreya Triana) 4:45
- Animals 6:45
- Black Sands 6:49
"Black Sands", from the outset, is all about diversity. Traditionally a bassline focused producer with predominant usage of more standard electronica production techniques - now marking a shift into more live instrumentation and percussion - Bonobo (aka Simon Green) bursts right out of the gate with Prelude. At first a haunting string refrain, it gradually develops with the help of some sparse piano accompaniment into an uplifting, beautiful piece of melodic work; masterfully mixed to give perfect balance and consistency to the track. A more perfect opening could not have been asked for; every sound used in the song is prominent enough to make its presence felt, but subdued enough to immerse itself unobtrusively into the full "scene", becoming an asset rather than a hindrance.
Setting the standard for the rest of the album, the listener immediately expects track two, Kiara, to be of the same vein. Surpisingly, Green opts for a restrained transition into a mellow yet driven electronic beat, combined with light use of the same string sample heard in Prelude, short staccatto vocal noise and plenty of ambient sound to further encapsulate any listener into Bonobo's world.
This theme of variety and diversity continues consistently throughout the album. From the melancholy lamentations provided by Triana's vocals in Eyesdown, The Keeper and Stay The Same, to the moody, atmospheric and ultimately emotional instrumental works of Kong, 1009 and Animals, the sheer range of musical influence from which Green has seemed to draw upon is immense, and the sound he has forged for himself seems to have the ability to stir up your own memories from your subconscious. If it somehow does not endear itself to the listener fully, the catchy melodic work, great variety and seemingly vast soundscapes will keep the vast majority coming back for a taste at regular intervals.
The only issue that may become prevalent with this album is that often the tracks develop very subtly. Musically this could perhaps be considered a positive thing. However, when I was listening to the entire album without doing anything else I found myself skipping tracks after about three minutes. On the other hand, when I played the album in the background while performing another task I couldn't get enough of it!
Bonobo has surely displayed his skill in his craft with "Black Sands". Irresistably catchy in every track and painstakingly crafted, it is an album which will always keep those who own it coming back for more. Have a listen, please, and I challenge you not to be singing Prelude under your breath at least daily.
Oh, and just look at that album art! Mmm.