Bonobo: Fragments Album Review | Pitchfork

Digital new music at the flip of the millennium was in a fairly laid-again place. Adhering to rave culture’s expansion into chillout rooms and IDM’s house-listening rebuttal to dwelling and techno, a wave of quirky European producers emerged with the shared target of getting electronic lounge songs to the up coming amount. Downtempo acts like Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly have been merchandise of a dance new music scene on the comedown, filling headphones and hi-fi stereo systems with grooves so smooth they virtually unfurled on to the residing space rug. The greatest of this crop, like Röyksopp and Air, wove vibrant tapestries of samples and synths that felt like a sensible convergence of traits in excursion-hop, electronica, and turntablism. But even then, lots of of the genre’s practitioners have been laying the groundwork for what we now assume of as “lo-fi beats to relax/examine to,” generating a submit-hip-hop template for wallpaper audio as feathery as it is faceless.

Simon Inexperienced, aka Bonobo, was by no means the most visionary producer to occur out of this motion, but in excess of time he deserted his early downtempo design and style, evolving to match fashionable conceptions of chillout music and his own rising profile as a dwell performer. Starting off with 2010’s Black Sands, Inexperienced progressively pivoted to a much more club-centric seem, swapping reference details from Kruder & Dorfmeister to Darkside and DJ Koze. But where by the latter artists have regularly spun dance music tropes into euphoric new highs, Green’s MO involves locating a zone just mellow more than enough to settle into until it is time for the subsequent monitor. Even if his tempo has picked up slightly, the over-all effect has not. His newest dispatch, Fragments, applies a soft, twinkling sheen above a familiar and unlucky deficiency of primary thoughts.

It is even now a pleasurable listen, with a bevy of collaborators who help to break up the album’s languid stream of violin interludes and sedative synth chords. The opening extend is strongest: “Shadows” builds its central deep house groove into a swirl of hi-def synthesizers and yawning strings, though fellow Ninja Tune signee Jordan Rakei presents the generic, inoffensive club R&B vocals. Additional groan-worthy is “Rosewood,” which pilfers its central “I won’t go away you” line from Maxwell’s “Life time,” lowering an essentially passionate tune to boilerplate garage-home rehash. Throughout Fragments, Green’s use of samples toes this line concerning attempted-and-correct and corny, however he finds moderate accomplishment in the anthemic Bulgarian choir he deploys on “Otomo.” It’s a lot more than a minor cliché, but when the bass drops, you can nearly see the heads bobbing in the summer time festival group.

From there, Fragments blurs into a syrupy slog. Electro-R&B experiments like “Tides” (showcasing Jamila Woods) and “From You” (with Joji) briefly break up the pacing, but in any other case the album’s drowsy club thump carries on unchangingly, borrowing thoughts from earlier a long time of digital new music and presenting them in their most narcotic iterations. “Counterpart” and “Sapien” allude to Jamie xx’s technicolor choose on garage with none of his inventiveness levels of plucked and bowed strings on “Tides” recall the doubtful “world music”-tinted electronica of the ’90s and early ’00s. It is tough to get upset at music that’s eventually this innocuous, but that does not end the report from emotion additional like an overpriced spa day than a club evening.

Fragments absolutely feels up to day stylistically, with a combine of hi- and lo-fi sounds that evoke the silvery sheen of an episode of Euphoria, or the lavish productions of Green’s far more adventurous labelmates. But Bonobo’s most current operate continue to carries some of the worst traits of his earlier records, leaning so deeply into peace that it loses urgency entirely. In its endless, flavorless drift, the album quantities to tiny extra than a modern-day just take on quick listening, with all the signifiers of lush, aesthetic encounter and none of the stakes. It’s high-quality as anything to throw on—but then, so is lo-fi hip-hop radio.

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