Simon Green's fifth album under his Bonobo moniker came at the perfect time of the year, released right at the tail end of a cold Michigan winter. As much as I love most forms of electronic music, there is nothing like a well done downtempo album to serve as a soundtrack to the chilly weather. This one was so good, it kept finding its way back to my stereo throughout the year.
The North Borders once again highlighted Green's expertise of mixing various musical styles into his electronic background. There are elements of jazz, trip hop, soul and a number of differing electronic music genres. Guest vocalists spotlighted this time around are Erykah Badu on "Heaven For The Sinner", Grey Reverend on opening track "First Fires", Szjerdene who sings on both "Towers" and "Transits" and Cornelia who is featured on the album closer, "Pieces".
The instrumental tracks shine even brighter, starting with the laid back, jazz feel of "Emkay". "Cirrus" is danceable, with a deep bassline propelling it, while "Sapphire" has a dark feel with heavy beats. My personal favorites are the back to back thrillers "Don't Wait" and "Know You". Sampled vocals are interspersed within these two standouts, the former a perfect chillout track, the latter another downtempo dance song. Green's use of live instrumentation within his music is another element that draws me into this genre of electronic, keeping it full of life and emotion. Although I have enjoyed a number of Bonobo's tracks over the years, The North Borders was flawless all the way through, by far my favorite release of his.
Favorite tracks: "Don't Wait", "Know You", "Sapphire", "Towers"
The North Borders was released April 2, 2013 on the Ninja Tune label.