Bonobo – “The North Borders”

After a couple weeks of weather weirdness, that crisp spring warmth is upon us. The sun is seeping through the clouds one by one. It is also this part of the year where those albums you kind of liked really let their colors shine, or sounds fly rather. Music just sounds better when the sun is out and the weather is perfect. There are many options too, in terms of albums released in the waning moments of winter, May or April. They needed that extra kick. It comes in the form of a hazy spring afternoon, when I finished my exams (oh my, I’m half way done with university already), the rays of the sun dance upon everything, and the weather is clear. This week I’ve digested so many albums that I’ve listened to for the past couple of weeks, but only with a clear mind and a clear sky does one truly appreciate an album. It’s all very exciting considering what’s on the horizon too. However, one is pressed to call such albums (those that seep their way into your brain in terms of infectiousness) “sleeper albums.” They are the ones you listen to on the side, but one day later due to some external factor (or not) you become totally hooked. Hooked beyond belief. It’s not exactly the newest thing, and hardly old either. In fact, I feel terrible for not talking about The North Border” when it came out late March. Maybe time really was all it needed. Like letting wine sit for a bit.

It really is a terrific piece of work. The production of each and every track (no, every minute) on this album is so intricate, so fresh, and it all feels very light in a way, but not in the bad way. Honest. This album certainly seems a lot more beat orientated than Black Sands and Days to Come. It’s structured, but not exactly rigid in that the loops, beats, synths, and vocals are so predictable that it would make for relatively idle album. No, it’s quite the opposite. But the best part is the familiarity one hears with the use of other instruments in the music, ranging from guitars, violins, to something that sounds like a bonang. Same goes for the variety of percussion. It’s not just a kick drum. This is music that is intelligent, mature, and a whole league above much else. And no, it’s not a fully laidback album. Some of the drums pack a punch. The sampling is exquisite as well. On a curious note, “Animals” sounds like something that pogo produce, with that happy-go-lucky-Disney sound. I’m a fan. For the most part, the atmosphere is happy and relaxed. This is the stuff of beach parties, a green field in the middle of nowhere, or a windows down road trip through the desert.

Whatever your plans are for the summer, I urge you to get your hands on “The North Borders” as it will slide its way into your summer one way or another in a way you will be very grateful for. I myself will be saying “Auf Wiedersehn” as I head to Germany for work and study abroad for a year. You’ll be left in the trusting hands of Nick Gruenenfelder. Until next time, take care! Have a great summer!

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