Migration, the sixth album from Simon Green AKA Bonobo reaches new heights in his already distinguished discography by being his best record yet.
Building on 2013’s The North Borders and live shows which saw a cast of 12 musicians bringing his downbeat and ambient electronica to life, Migration manages to conjur up a nomadic sense of intimacy across its hour running time.
The ambient textures that could have lead Bonobo’s music to be called “chill” are refined here, expanded and richer, more detailed and human. Guest vocalists Rhye on ‘Break Apart’ and Hundred Waters’ Nicole Miglis on ‘Surface’ see to that, while Moroccan band Innov Gnawa bring that globe-trotting sensibility.
There are big signs of growth. ‘Outlier’ which sprawls out as a warm percussive upbeat jazz/house song in the vein of Floating Points grows tougher with a Four Tet-style beat. Innov Gnawa-featuring ‘Bambro Koyo Ganda’ could well drift off into pleasing worldly ambience but its rhythm and spark doesn’t let it settle. ‘Kerala’, which samples Brandy is soulful and warped in an urgent way while Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) adds to the expanse on ‘No Reason’. ‘Grains’ seemingly channels the vocal twists of James Blake in its construction.
Green says that the album is inspired by “the relationship between transience and identity,” and the album wisely doesn’t sit still for long. Ambient electronic and chilled music can often feel insular, a safe place to crawl to in your mind. Migration benefits from bringing in life from the outside.