Compact Disc (CD), 2 x Vinyl LP
By now, we know what to expect from Simon Green, who does business as Bonobo—he plays deep, lovingly produced downtempo tracks that make any room seem that much more luxuriant. There’s a similar feeling when Green takes to the decks, as well—his ear for opulence stays intact whatever the tempo—but he’s more playful than careworn in a DJ setting. In fact, aside from the aural shine and cooing vocals he favors, he can be rather unpredictable.
Fabric presents Bonobo is the first issue of the London superclub’s new mix series, fabric presents, following the twin finishes of both fabric and fabriclive at 100 numbered volumes. For all of Bonobo’s understated smoothness, it’s pretty damn peaky. Âme’s sky-arcing “Nia,” in which a frosty Nordic synth line plays enticing counterpoint against string stabs that crisscross Chic with Bernard Herrmann, arrives early in the mix to give it some oomph. Around minute 45, Bonobo brings in the killer: Dan Kye’s “Focus,” with a gently knotty bassline, a pace that feels casual even as it gallops, and a falsetto vocal, both flinty and delicate, that recalls Curtis Mayfield. And soon after, Bonobo kills the tempo and lets the bass stutter as the slow synth build of R. Lyle’s “Perpetrator” bubbles up through the earth’s core. It settles back to terra firma with John Beltran’s “Collage of Dreams,” from 1996, whose splashy lavishness is apt. This is everything you’d expect from Bonobo, and more.