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14: Bonobo

Photo By Grant Spanier

While I Daydream, I Leave This World To Follow…”

Electronic music is a genre that remains stable in this sphere. From deep house to nu-disco, or techno to trance, it has transcended the entire industry. It remains in high demand, with the music economy reliant on the revenue it generates through exclusive festivals like Tomorrowland and resident club nights in local areas all over the globe. The standard bearers are recognised household names. Artists like deadmau5, Skrillex and David Guetta have all reached a status of notoriety for both good and bad reasons in their years of activity. They have produced music that has generated billions of streams on music platforms and worked with some of the most premier vocalists. They are pioneers in their own right, but an artist that supersedes them all, is the one named after a species of great ape; Bonobo.  

Born on the 30th of March 1976, Simon Green came to the forefront through the electronic hip-hop scene via the Tru Thoughts compilation tape “When Shapes Join Together”. This was a very decent debut for Bonobo – a raw and downtempo vibe proving to be a hit with listeners. He would follow this up with his debut album “Animal Magic”, applying his own stamp on the hip-hop adjacent sound. This assorted innovation would a receive mixed reaction from critics, with some claiming the creative aspect was lacking.

Cover Art for Bonobo's "Animal Magic"

The people didn’t agree, but this release spawned a massive cult following for him. His music was evolving, and after signing to Ninja Tune, it would allow him to start the development of his signature process of production. Further releases would cement him as a major figure in the electronic scene, culminating in his first major album “Days to Come” in 2006. Described as a fresh take on a worn-out genre, the organic sound and vibrancy he brought was praised by many.

Cover Art for Bonobo's "Days To Come"

For all creators with substance, they always find kinks in the process which they aim to change, innovate and improve. Stagnation is a taboo term to those who seek reaching the pinnacle of music production. With the relative success of “Days to Come”, he would hit his natural stride with “Black Sands” in 2010. Melodic, calm, and thought-provoking sound pieces that features vocalist Andreya Triana, and spanning the globe instrumentally. A tremendous album and a personal favourite of mine.

Cover Art for Bonobo's "Black Sands"

"But although the parallels with Bonobo’s peers are obvious, his fourth album doesn’t just sit in their shadows. Rather, it’s an inspiring example of how, free of pressure and publicity, he has blossomed into something beautiful at his own pace…“

He was established as a pioneer of the electronic genre, bringing an essence to a sound that had long been saturated. With “The North Borders”, the stage was set for him to ascend to the top of amongst all producers, and he had achieved this before the peak of his sound, in my opinion - “Migration”.

Cover Art for Bonobo's "Migration"

Bonobo’s sixth album was nominated for multiple awards, winning “Album of The Year” at the 2017 EMA’s. Primarily written and recorded while Green was on his “North Borders” tour. An inordinate achievement seeing as he created the release on his laptop on the road for several months, but genius never rests.

"Bonobo questions the very nature of home ... The result is an extremely reflective record, just a few shades more tranquil than his last two albums, but easily matching their well-produced splendour..."

Bonobo’s sampling was the foundation of his musicality. Using unusual sounds such as an elevator noise from Hong Kong Airport, or a fan boat engine in New Orleans. His relocation from hip-hop to trap, and then to the more earthly, hypnotic sounds of the last ten years display his production prowess in the studio and his willingness to never settle. His innovation has reached the point where he has implemented live instruments and full bands during his performances. He has matured with his music, constantly improving and creating unique samples.

“Green highlights his talent in electronic with expertly crafted intricate drum patterns, found sounds and eloquent string sections and synths…”

Simon Green has transcended electronic music, choosing the harder path of collecting real world sampling and instruments to create his own tranquil electronic sound. His imagination for the art of music is something to be admired; his aura and stardom has been earned through unrelenting passion and persistence. From average hip-hop compilation tapes to generational singles and albums, Bonobo’s ability to immerse his listeners into different spaces and times cements his place in the upper echelons of electronic music and beyond.

Written by: @Arriv3r

Edited by: @Whosaria

Insight.