May 21, 2024

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Bonobo: Fragments Album Critique | Pitchfork

Digital audio at the switch of the millennium was in a pretty laid-again place. Pursuing rave culture’s expansion into chillout rooms and IDM’s property-listening rebuttal to residence and techno, a wave of quirky European producers emerged with the shared intention of using electronic lounge audio to the subsequent stage. Downtempo acts like Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly ended up merchandise of a dance tunes scene on the comedown, filling headphones and hi-fi stereo units with grooves so smooth they practically unfurled onto the residing place rug. The greatest of this crop, like Röyksopp and Air, wove colourful tapestries of samples and synths that felt like a logical convergence of tendencies in trip-hop, electronica, and turntablism. But even then, several of the genre’s practitioners ended up laying the groundwork for what we now assume of as “lo-fi beats to chill out/examine to,” building a post-hip-hop template for wallpaper music as feathery as it is faceless.

Simon Environmentally friendly, aka Bonobo, was never ever the most visionary producer to arrive out of this motion, but around time he deserted his early downtempo design and style, evolving to match present day conceptions of chillout tunes and his own soaring profile as a dwell performer. Commencing with 2010’s Black Sands, Eco-friendly progressively pivoted to a more club-centric sound, swapping reference factors from Kruder & Dorfmeister to Darkside and DJ Koze. But exactly where the latter artists have routinely spun dance songs tropes into euphoric new highs, Green’s MO involves acquiring a zone just mellow sufficient to settle into till it’s time for the upcoming track. Even if his tempo has picked up a little, the all round effect has not. His newest dispatch, Fragments, applies a smooth, twinkling sheen more than a acquainted and unlucky lack of primary ideas.

It’s nonetheless a enjoyable listen, with a bevy of collaborators who assistance to crack up the album’s languid stream of violin interludes and sedative synth chords. The opening extend is strongest: “Shadows” builds its central deep residence groove into a swirl of hi-def synthesizers and yawning strings, whilst fellow Ninja Tune signee Jordan Rakei delivers the generic, inoffensive club R&B vocals. Additional groan-deserving is “Rosewood,” which pilfers its central “I will not leave you” line from Maxwell’s “Life span,” decreasing an essentially passionate track to boilerplate garage-household rehash. Through Fragments, Green’s use of samples toes this line involving tried using-and-accurate and corny, even though he finds reasonable results in the anthemic Bulgarian choir he deploys on “Otomo.” It’s additional than a little cliché, but when the bass drops, you can almost see the heads bobbing in the summer festival group.

From there, Fragments blurs into a syrupy slog. Electro-R&B experiments like “Tides” (featuring Jamila Woods) and “From You” (with Joji) briefly split up the pacing, but or else the album’s drowsy club thump carries on unchangingly, borrowing strategies from past decades of electronic tunes and presenting them in their most narcotic iterations. “Counterpart” and “Sapien” allude to Jamie xx’s technicolor just take on garage with none of his inventiveness layers of plucked and bowed strings on “Tides” remember the dubious “world music”-tinted electronica of the ’90s and early ’00s. It is really hard to get upset at music that is in the long run this innocuous, but that doesn’t end the document from experience additional like an overpriced spa working day than a club night time.

Fragments certainly feels up to date stylistically, with a blend of hello- and lo-fi appears that evoke the silvery sheen of an episode of Euphoria, or the lavish productions of Green’s more adventurous labelmates. But Bonobo’s most recent perform nonetheless carries some of the worst features of his previously data, leaning so deeply into peace that it loses urgency altogether. In its limitless, flavorless drift, the album amounts to very little much more than a modern-day choose on quick listening, with all the signifiers of lush, aesthetic practical experience and none of the stakes. It’s fantastic as some thing to throw on—but then, so is lo-fi hip-hop radio.

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