Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#5 Album Of 2010: Black Sands - Bonobo

Black Sands

Ninja Tune Records.

Original SCQ Review

Through Trip-hop’s hazy gateway of grainy samples I found my electronic path, and yet I rarely offer the subgenre any credit. It’s no mystery as to why; like most scenes that stick staunchly to their roots, Trip-hop’s patient dynamics became predictable and thus slow to blossom. Even someone with a longstanding history of anxiety like myself rarely needs to chill-out that much.

The proximity of Black Sands to Trip-hop’s still operational hub, manned by veterans like Herbaliser and Coldcut, is marginal yet crucial to understanding Bonobo’s career in 2010. Truth is, the record is closest to its dated roots on early listens, when those decadent bass-grooves stand out in their shuffling wander down a head-nodding melody. Bonobo’s basic trajectory remains in line with Trip-hop’s pacifist mission-statement – namely to sit back and enjoy with the recreational drug of your choice – but it’s how Black Sands takes us there that sets it apart.

Black Sands’ aural terrain is humid and exotic, as if its every fluttering of strings or brass seeks to reenact some environmental breeze in our listening-space daydream. None of its reverie cheats on ambience, either; each song’s defined structure operates with an integrity that belies the atmospheres created. Proximity matters, and the journey of Black Sands feels more rooted in a foreign paradise than clear-cut geography, yet also more worldly than the bordered appeals of international music.

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