Bonobo – Migration
Do me a favour.
If you’re going to listen to Bonobo’s new record Migration this week, give yourself some time and some space.
Don’t solely listen to it while you’re at your desk working. Don’t just throw it on while you’re cleaning the house or cooking dinner. Find another time than the daily commute to get inside its songs. Even if it’s just once.
Everyone’s talking about mindfulness at the moment and that’s probably a good thing. It has become too easy to greedily consume everything without giving it enough thought. This goes for food, art, music, booze, sport – whatever it is you love. A record as gorgeously restrained and relaxing as Migration is a good way to start making mindful music listening a part of your life in 2017.
It’s not that the record feels like an ‘instant classic’, though it is very good. And it’s not that you need to concentrate to understand what’s going on here musically, as a record it’s very easy to listen to.
It’s just the kind of considered, carefully crafted work that’s best appreciated when you can give it the bulk of your attention.
Migration is Simon Green’s sixth record as Bonobo and it really does prove that he’s a cut above. He’s not necessarily doing anything different – goodness knows we can’t get away from this chilled electro thing right now – he’s just doing it better. His sounds shimmer more vividly, the way he combines them is seamless and his musical ideas inhabit the space between the comforting and familiar and the weird and experimental.
The gentle pulse of the opening title track is a gentle, intriguing and effective way to lull us in. The crystalline piano sounds and the sporadic bleeps are beautiful, but it’s the sense of space that’s most alluring of all; there are plenty of tantalising sounds, yet it remains uncluttered.
The undulating intro of ‘Second Sun’ keeps threatening to explode into a blast of noise, yet never does. Instead, luxuriant strings get louder and louder, the bass gets heavier and it ends with everything sounding frighteningly ominous.
Across its seven minutes, ‘Outlier’ manages to build and fall away numerous times, it feels like three or four (or five) songs by the time it’s done. But Bonobo’s skills as a DJ means that’s not sure a bad thing. His great musical brain is an important asset throughout the record, as he pulls influence from a range of genres.
Hundred Waters’ vocalist Nicole Miglis adds a refreshing pop edge to ‘Surface’, ‘Kerala’ is a joyful house track that’s a far cry from the deeper, Afro-influenced ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ that precedes it and the epic, cinematic ‘Ontario’ that follows, but they all work together just fine.
Migration is another beautiful piece of art from this esteemed producer. You could say that it deserves your time, but, really, you deserve the time to enjoy it.