Digital new music at the turn of the millennium was in a pretty laid-again position. Adhering to rave culture’s expansion into chillout rooms and IDM’s property-listening rebuttal to residence and techno, a wave of quirky European producers emerged with the shared goal of having digital lounge tunes to the up coming stage. Downtempo functions like Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly had been solutions of a dance music scene on the comedown, filling headphones and hi-fi stereo methods with grooves so smooth they practically unfurled on to the living place rug. The best of this crop, like Röyksopp and Air, wove colourful tapestries of samples and synths that felt like a logical convergence of trends in excursion-hop, electronica, and turntablism. But even then, lots of of the genre’s practitioners have been laying the groundwork for what we now believe of as “lo-fi beats to unwind/research to,” producing a post-hip-hop template for wallpaper songs as feathery as it is faceless.
Simon Green, aka Bonobo, was under no circumstances the most visionary producer to arrive out of this movement, but around time he deserted his early downtempo type, evolving to match modern conceptions of chillout music and his own mounting profile as a are living performer. Commencing with 2010’s Black Sands, Inexperienced little by little pivoted to a additional club-centric audio, swapping reference points from Kruder & Dorfmeister to Darkside and DJ Koze. But wherever the latter artists have frequently spun dance new music tropes into euphoric new highs, Green’s MO demands finding a zone just mellow adequate to settle into right until it is time for the next keep track of. Even if his tempo has picked up a bit, the all round outcome hasn’t. His most up-to-date dispatch, Fragments, applies a gentle, twinkling sheen around a common and regrettable lack of primary suggestions.
It is continue to a pleasurable listen, with a bevy of collaborators who aid to crack up the album’s languid stream of violin interludes and sedative synth chords. The opening stretch is strongest: “Shadows” builds its central deep house groove into a swirl of hello-def synthesizers and yawning strings, whilst fellow Ninja Tune signee Jordan Rakei presents the generic, inoffensive club R&B vocals. Much more groan-worthy is “Rosewood,” which pilfers its central “I won’t leave you” line from Maxwell’s “Lifetime,” decreasing an actually romantic music to boilerplate garage-property rehash. All through Fragments, Green’s use of samples toes this line among tried out-and-real and corny, even though he finds average achievements in the anthemic Bulgarian choir he deploys on “Otomo.” It is much more than a minor cliché, but when the bass drops, you can almost see the heads bobbing in the summer months pageant group.
From there, Fragments blurs into a syrupy slog. Electro-R&B experiments like “Tides” (that includes Jamila Woods) and “From You” (with Joji) briefly split up the pacing, but or else the album’s drowsy club thump carries on unchangingly, borrowing ideas from past decades of digital new music and presenting them in their most narcotic iterations. “Counterpart” and “Sapien” allude to Jamie xx’s technicolor just take on garage with none of his inventiveness layers of plucked and bowed strings on “Tides” recall the doubtful “world music”-tinted electronica of the ’90s and early ’00s. It is difficult to get upset at audio which is in the end this innocuous, but that doesn’t cease the history from feeling extra like an overpriced spa day than a club night.
Fragments certainly feels up to date stylistically, with a blend of hello- and lo-fi appears that evoke the silvery sheen of an episode of Euphoria, or the lavish productions of Green’s additional adventurous labelmates. But Bonobo’s most current work still carries some of the worst attributes of his earlier records, leaning so deeply into peace that it loses urgency completely. In its countless, flavorless drift, the album amounts to very little extra than a fashionable-working day consider on uncomplicated listening, with all the signifiers of lush, aesthetic working experience and none of the stakes. It’s fantastic as one thing to toss on—but then, so is lo-fi hip-hop radio.
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