Bonobo: Migration

By Harry Ballmann

Migration, n.: The action of passing from place to place, of passing into a new condition or form. Of a person or people, or of creatures, or of the soul….

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Migration is not merely an album, but a work; something far more than something you tune your ears to. It’s an experience but goes beyond that, it is a narrative. The 180g double vinyl is testament to this; it includes various works of art, and a booklet formed of short excerpts depicting the album through the eyes of Bonobo himself, Mr Simon Green. Before this review embarks on illustrating Bonobo’s true creative works beyond his music, we must first start with his music, a foundation for observing his brilliance.

Even though Bonobo can be traced back to 2000 with Animal Magic, Green’s most recent albums, Black Sands (2010) and The North Borders (2013) demonstrated his immensely talented perception of music composition and music production. Immensely high quality recordings, in addition to a gentle equilibrium between orchestra and electronica helped position Green as a somewhat king of the downtempo electronic genre. First and foremost, he was a DJ, a passion for mixing, placing songs in a precise order to create a musical journey through an hour or so certainly helped Bonobo craft his albums.

If anything, Migration is a perfect combination of Black Sands and The North Borders. It shows Bonobo’s musical progression, thus rightly earning the apt name, Migration, it is an album which passes into a new condition. Formed from the eloquence and multi-cultural influences of Black Sands, Migration in this respect is an album of influence and intricacy, a display of orchestral composition stemming from Green’s aptitude and understanding of music as a narrative; each song specifically placed in an order creating a beautiful album-long harmony. Similarly, the more percussion and bass heavy North Boarders is reflected in Migration in so far to create unforgettable rhythms and beats. Together, these elements combined are what make up Green’s best work yet; an album of intricacy and harmony, whilst at the same time, not failing to encompass the depth and mesmeric qualities seen in the Bonobo of the past.

Featuring the delicate vocals of Rhye and the immersive depth of Nick Murphy (previously known as Chet Faker), Bonobo’s ability to combine an array of vocals with interesting musical alignment helps create a similarly immersive artistic experience. The colours used on the album cover and inside the booklet included in the double vinyl seem to reflect the nature of the album generally; a serene yet immersive experience – an array of landscapes shown within the booklet, accompanied by poignant commentary regarding how the music reflects emotion and perspectives:

Memories will swell around your ankles, regardless of how much you consider the current: there’ll always be them days there and there’ll always be wherever is here and now, fixed points with time moving like a tide between them’

Ultimately, what Green has managed to show which many producers are not quite able to achieve, is that music is far more than an audible experience. Rather, it encompasses an array of senses; sound, vision and touch. Green keeps a poignancy allowing one to escape reality into the realm of his music and the artistic narrative of his accompanying booklet. We as listeners transcend into the mesmeric world of Migration, it is an album with unique immersive qualities, truly reflecting a musical journey, a passing from a place, to another place when there is only silence again.

Rating: 10/10

Standout Track: No Reason
(Ft. Nick Murphy)

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