The accessible warmth of Simon Green aka Bonobo’s sample-rich downtempo electronica alone is enough to bring in the flocks of fans; indeed, nearly a year and a half since his last performance at Canal Mills Bonobo has returned.
Bonobo’s work has long been of high personal value for me, able to slot into practically any mood. But the prospect of seeing Bonobo perform in a club context seemed more challenging to envisage: sure, many of his tracks have the bass driven power for a dancing situation, but is not how I would characterize his music in the slightest. Still, back to his beginnings, Bonobo proved his ability as one of the great contemporary DJs.
As many fans will have felt, kicking the night off with the opening to the album Black Sands (2010) of Prelude and Kiara, was an unbeatable way to encapsulate the audience for the coming hours. Bonobo struck the fine line between providing his much loved creations seamlessly integrated with an array of contemporary talent: namely Four Tet (Kieren Hebden) with the African tribal chant of “That Track I’ve Been Playing”, providing a raw unconventional thematic flow. This side of Bonobo’s production talent can also be seen with his sets on Late Night Tales. At times, bass lines verged on the soul, trip-hop spectrum of Australia’s Chet Faker, while at others a vibe more in tune with the Chemical Brothers emerged, conjuring up the 90’s underground scene. With the funky twang of his latest EP, Flashlight (2014), Bonobo could not have done better in bowling us over with the masterful melding of his syncopated skill reminiscent of Modest Mouse, gentle percussion tinker characteristic of Cirrus, haunting vocals of Know You, and heartwarming eighties-esq synths of Roosevelt generating a really unique atmosphere. Meanwhile, the talents of Stephen Howe and Werkha kept a high-energy corner of the club going all night long.
It is an enticing prospect to see Bonobo live, exclusively centered on his productions, with the masterful accompaniment of an array of guest musicians – Bonobo truly demonstrates his multidimensional ability to move his audience irrespective of the night. On this night, we saw him as an integral part of a diversely talented collective of British DJs.
By Douglas Fraser