Harrison Smith
12:07 13th January 2022

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An unconventional cocktail of trip-hop, world-music & eccentric space jazz once again sees the multi-Grammy award-nominated British DJ Bonobo exercising his trademark sound on the stimulating new album Fragments.

Bonobo, real name Simon Green, brings together a mix of sonic influences, compiling fiery beats and an array of fresh musical concepts. Fragments is the perfect title for this project; pieces of ideas and experiments gathered from his time spent in L.A. and beyond. With an understated lo-fi groove as the driving force behind the album, Fragments oozes with a '90s house ambience with all the sparkle of the 21st century. 

‘Polyghost’ kicks things off with a building wave of laidback strings before the wheels are set in motion by the thumping Jordan Rakei-featuring ‘Shadows’; it's rather well-oiled and polished electronica. The first of many inspired collaborations on the record, ‘Shadows’ melancholy lyrics allow a cluster of downbeat emotions to take hold of the listener whilst keeping one’s attention engaged with its simplistic synth riff. 

‘Tides’ sits as the catalyst for the album’s creation. Green said of the track: "I knew I had a centerpiece, I knew how it was all going to sound". The often sombre nature of many of the tracks may lead listeners to believe the album is a work of pensive introspection. However, quite the opposite is true. Joy can be found in the contemplative themes of the drowsy ‘From You’ the stand-out track featuring the YouTube sensation Joji. So inspired is this collaboration, Green himself felt moved by the aura the song carried: "I remembered all over again how much I loved crowds and movement and people connecting." 

‘From You’ is where Green’s creative strengths are realised. Where one may expect the slow grooves to grow tiresome and predictable they prove engaging with bracing unconventionality. Joji’s elegant vocals lift the song to a new level, awarding it a favourable frisson. ‘Counterpart’ bops along pleasantly with Massive Attack-like minor motifs before the bass steers the song into more intense and animated areas. 

The Kadhja Bonet featuring ‘Day By Day’s uncomplicated beats and saxophone neatly round off the record in much the same restrained manner it began. This is where the album occasionally falters, its hesitancy to truly mix things up. It feels that there is ground Green is anxious to cover and a more frenzied approach would be most welcome. The pacing often feels that it does not intend on changing out of first gear and its comfort zone is exactly where it needs to be. Nevertheless, for what the album sets out to do it does it very well. 

On Fragments, Green serves up a minimalist tonic for an otherwise bustling world. What is expected of him certainly, however its pleasant and straightforward sound sees the album fit nicely into his back catalogue of kooky dance-pop.

Fragments arrives 14 January via Ninja Tune. 

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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Photo: Press