Black Sands

BY Ashley HampsonPublished May 18, 2010

If one were giving credits to the emergence of downtempo, a definite shout-out would be levelled at Bonobo, the UK-based producer/DJ who found common ground between live instrumentation and laptop production well before it became popular. He released his first full-length in 2001, and in 2003 decided to sign with Ninja Tune, releasing two albums on the label. Bonobo's fourth studio album, Black Sands, follows in veins past, with subtle complexity and understated texture. His ability to find the perfect divide between, and connection with, live instrumentation and unostentatious beats and production gives him another push in the direction of unconventional artist. Hauntingly beautiful violin ebbs and flows atop a minimal piano arrangement on opening track "Kiara Prelude," gradually working in a solid beat, flitting synths and a bit of grit as the song shifts to "Kiara." Wavering bass surrounds ethereal brass, while distorted synths finally push through near the end of "Eyesdown." Meanwhile, sweeping violin waltzes with brass and live, unrestrained percussion on "El Toro." Black Sands, though not a radical departure from previous work, is a relevant effort that begs active listening and dissection.
(Ninja Tune)

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