You know you have something when you sit down and listen to a record that’s easy on the ears, perhaps exciting, even euphoria inducing. For a long time, the albums of Simon Green (Aka Bonobo) have been successful at just that, and Migration, released in January 2017, is another addition to the British musician, producer, and DJ’s resume of adventurous albums.
As the title hints, Migration is a manifestation of Bonobo’s travels and move to a new home. As such Migration is much like North Borders and Black Sands in regards to how it uses foreign instruments in the songs’ production, including sitars, horns and harps. It also stays true to Bonobo’s trademark jazz, downtempo, and electronica influences.
The 12-track “voyage” explores musical styles around the world and then brings you back. “Bamba Koyo Ganda,” a track with heavy influences from West Africa, features Gnawa singer Innov Gnawa. The lo-fi rhythm, fat drops of electronic and techno, and lengthy chorus are vintage Bonobo. “Second Sun” and “Migration” unearth intimate emotions through intricate downtempo beats filled with jazzy drum lines, horns, synths, and voices of children layering the background. “Figures” is one of the more touching tracks in the album, utilizing samples from Elkie Brooks’ “Just An Excuse,” a song about partners leaving each other. Violins here work beautifully in conjunction with Brooks’ fading voice that says, “You say you don't need me no more.”
Migration is a manifestation of Bonobo’s travels and move to a new home
Most of the songs in the album are instrumentals, but the few that have vocals hold lyrics that seem to have meaning but are vague. Perhaps this is due to the album’s name being one referring to traveling of sorts; so when hearing the songwriting that relates to human nature, and drifting apart, there is trouble relating them to the album’s theme of migration.
“No Reason,” featuring Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), ventures into the idea of people, and how we’re all “looking like soldiers waiting to drown” in this world where only music keeps us warm. “Break Apart,” with Canadian-Danish R&B duo Rhye, also delves into human nature a bit: “You're my favourite, you're my favourite, but we're phasing, but we're phasing.”
In “Surface,” the album’s title comes back in the spotlight when Nicole Miglis’ hope-giving voice utters, “I can make it home.” Even still, the lyrics from the songs can make you wonder if the album is called “Migration” because of the literal theme of adventure it offers or perhaps for the sake of some eternal search for something sacred.
Because Migration gives off this wanderlust, it repeats what many of Bonobos’ albums have done. Yes, it is produced fantastically, hosts talented vocalists, and induces euphoria. But ultimately, it does not bring anything particularly new to the table. That’s fine considering typical Bonobo is good Bonobo, but often times, it’s always good to see artists take risks and attempt to ascend with their product.
Nonetheless, for the security-seeking fan of Bonobo, Migration is full proof. It’s easy to listen to, provides the perfect mood for long flights, and mixes moody orchestras with electronic and techno.
8,127 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars