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Critiques CD: Bonobo | The North Borders

Bonobo’s fifth album is a refined exercise in restrained, laid back minimalist beats that float in a limitless universe of gentle beauty. Bonobo’s chilled out musical universe expands outward from the soulful hip-hop and acid jazz of artists like Portishead, and the microverse of chill out rooms, but The North Borders also encompasses the contemporary, glitchy minimalist maximalist beauty of artists like Pantha du Prince (Cirrus). At times the album is so smooth and pretty that it simply flows over you like a stream of unconsciousness but underneath this easy listening a complex world of sounds and rhythms bubble up. Vocal snippets swirl and eddy around the insistent beats and breaks of Know You, while Cornelia’s voice picks up Pieces and tugs at your heartstrings and, on Heaven For The Sinner, Erykah Badu’s gorgeous vocals are spun into soulful gossamer threads that are woven in and out of the body of the song. Processed and reconstructed, refined and distilled, Bonobo crafts some very pretty pieces of music on this album. There’s nothing overtly radical here but the point isn’t to get all hot and bothered, it’s to relax back into the warm embrace of soulful music that slowly reveals its complex beauty as it gently moves you.