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Bonobo - Days To Come

Bonobo, Days To Come

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

BONOBO – aka Simon Green – has decided to opt for a change on third album, Days To Come and the results are no less impressive than his work on previous albums.

Having come into his own once joining the Ninja Tunes label and releasing Dial M For Monkey, which he then proceeded to deliver with a live band on the road, Green completes his move away from the more traditional sampling techniques employed by DJs.

Indeed, much like DJ Shadow’s latest long-player, Days To Come relies far more heavily on vocals than instrumentals – although the emphasis remains on chillout with Green, rather than rap and hip-hop in the form of DJ Shadow.

The result is an effortlessly classy album that revels in its sense of adventure. Joining Green on this atmospheric musical odyssey is husky-throated singer Bajka (pronounced ‘Biker’), whose sultry tones provide the perfect backdrop to Bonobo’s deft blend of beats, samples and instrumentation.

Bajka grew up as part of Embryo, a travelling music commune whose journies took them through Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan. Now based in Germany, she has released records on labels such as Ubiquity and Compost and adds a smokey, soulful presence to Green’s music-making. The result is never less than intoxicating whenever she is around.

That’s not to say that every track is sung, as Bonobo still drops in a lush instrumental here and there to remind us of his individual brilliance – tracks like Ketto, for instance, combine the global musical influence of former efforts such as The Sicilian and Scuba with the grander, more epic sweep of his most recent work.

Ketto even goes so far as to drop in some more female vocals that vampishly drift in and out of the music like some teasing temptress, easing the track towards its richly satisfying close.

Former single, Nightlite, remains as inspired now as it was once first heard, Bajka’s simmering vocals serving the Eastern-influenced beats and melancholy flutes perfectly – her vocals hint at old-school Shirley Bassey.

The jazzy Transmission94 (Part 1) is a breezy, vibrant affair that’s laden with trumpet fanfares and slick beats, before classily drifting into the more serene Part 2 and, quite literally, taking your breath away with its subtle fragility.

On Your Marks, meanwhile, serves as a reminder of early DJ Shadow and finds Green at his most playfully exuberant, mixing beats and breaks with plenty of samples and changes of pace. While another instrumental, The Fever takes the form of a Lalo Schiffrin inspired joyride through a ‘70s era soundtrack.

Of Bajka’s other collaborations, the soul-jazz shuffle of Between The Lines provides an exhilarating listen complete with Pick Up style flutes. It’s a moody listen that contains a genuinely cool swagger about it.

Another guest star is one of Green’s fellow Brightonians, Fink, who lends his brooding vocals to the beautifully seductive If You Stayed Over, complete with strings and background horns. It’s the type of track you could use to impress a loved one, such is the seductive, playful quality of its lyrics.

Bajka drops some more incendiary vocals on penultimate track Walk In The Sky, another smokey barnstormer that slowly tantalises, while it’s left to Bonobo himself to play things out with the instrumental Recurring, a beautifully vibrant offering that whisks you away on an effortlessly pleasing daydream of spine-tingling beats and electronics.

A bonus CD offers instrumental versions of many of the tracks that feature vocals, while there’s even a nice demo version of Nightlite to keep things interesting. But it’s the main album that contains the real jewels, meaning that Bonobo has created another breathtaking tour-de-force that’s destined to become a chillout classic.

Track listing:
Disc 1

  1. Intro
  2. Days To Come
  3. Between The Lines – Feat. Bajka
  4. The Fever
  5. Ketto
  6. Nightlite – Feat. Bajka
  7. Transmission94 (Parts 1 & 2)
  8. On Your Marks
  9. If You Stayed Over – Feat. Fink
  10. Walk In The Sky – Feat. Bajka
  11. Recurring

Disc 2

  1. Days To Come [Instrumental]
  2. Between The Lines [Instrumental]
  3. Nightlite [Demo Version]
  4. If You Stayed Over [Instrumental]
  5. If You Stayed Over (Reprise)
  6. Walk In The Sky [Instrumental]
  7. Hatoa