Album review: Bonobo’s ‘Migration’ creates—and releases—tensions


Four stars

Bonobo Migration

Everything that makes Bonobo great can be heard in the five and a half minutes of its latest release’s title track. The song opens with a clinical electronic throb that’s quickly layered over with a bed of tuneful sound—piano, synthesizer washes, wordless vocals, jazzy cymbals and pulsing bass. At the two-minute mark, “Migration” resolves into a warm, shimmering instrumental you wouldn’t have expected from that chilly intro. That’s what Bonobo’s Simon Green does—create tensions and the remedy for those tensions, sometimes within the same musical phrase.

Migration is rife with such moments. The insistent beat of “Outlier” partially vanishes in the song’s escalating instrumentation, like momentarily losing sight of a friend at a party. “Bambro Koya Ganda,” featuring Moroccan band Innov Gnawa, grows into a full-volume house stomp from what sounds like a few musicians rehearsing in a studio hallway. It’s not all twists and turns, however; Bonobo’s gift for lush, scenic composition shines in tracks like “Second Sun,” whose swooning, romantic strings are precisely what you need at the exact instant you need them.

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