Simon Green returns after almost four years with the sixth Bonobo album. His last release, 2013's The North Borders, was my favorite Bonobo full length to date and my #3 album of that year so Migration has a tough act to follow. It doesn't quite reach the level of its predecessor for me, but it is still another fine addition to the Bonobo catalog.
Migration is somewhat a tale of two halves. The first half of the album is mostly softer, slower material, while the beats and tempo pick up in the second part. The album opens with the title track, a beautifully soothing number based around piano work and vocal samples with shuffling beats added about halfway through. It's the prettiest track on the album and sets the tone of the first half. The L.A. based duo Rhye are the featured vocalists on "Break Apart", another lovely ballad. The longest track here, "Outlier" is the only uptempo song in the early part of the album. Things slow back down with the gentle "Grains" which samples from Pete Seeger's "One Grain Of Sand", the vocals slowed down and manipulated. "Second Sun" mixes ambient atmospherics with beautiful orchestration, it brings an end to the slower section of the album in a gorgeous way.
A number of guests appear on the album's remaining tracks starting with Nicole Miglis from the band Hundred Waters who provides vocals on "Surface". The New York based Innov Gnawa, a collective dedicated to bringing attention to Moroccan gnawa music, features on "Bambro Koyo Ganda". The best dance track here, and one of the album's best songs period, is "No Reason" featuring vocals by Nick Murphy, who is better known as his former alias Chet Faker. It's no surprise this has become a featured track off the album. Also not to be missed is "Kerala", it has that classic Bonobo sound, heavy beats, chilled out electronics and a killer vocal sample, this time from Brandy's "Baby" if you can believe it. It's a fantastic track.
Bonobo does not deviate much from what fans of his music have come to expect on his full length works with Migration. It's a little more subdued than The North Borders, but it keeps you engaged from start to finish. Simon Green continues to release first class electronic music and this one will work as well when the weather warms as it does now in the cold of winter.
Favorite tracks: "No Reason", "Kerala", "Migration", "Second Sun"
Migration was released January 13th, 2017 on the Ninja Tune label.