One of the pioneering producers in electronica, Bonobo has released a string of critically-acclaimed albums since the early noughties. His latest, Migration, was released this month on dance label Ninja Tune.
At first, the album seems to continue his previous work on The North Borders, with traditional electro pulses, subtly evolving dance beats, and clipped vocal samples. But delve a little further, and hear a more melancholic and tender side, plus a wider library of instruments.
Warm, mellow piano on Second Sun and the title track have an ambient feel, while the Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern inflections on Grains and Ontario reveal global influences. These additions are reminiscent of early album Dial M for Monkey, but sound way sharper.
Strings and wind instruments also come to the fore; from the beautiful arrangements on closer Figures and Bambro Koyo Ganda, to the triumphant horns on the 7th Sevens outro, and the mournful brass on Break Apart.
Despite these sombre textures, Bonobo still relies on glitch and breakbeats, as on lead single Kerala, on which he gradually builds up repeated rhythms. Elsewhere, Surface feels confidently synth-pop and No Reason verges on EDM territory.
It may be inspired by a sense of displacement, but Migration pushes Bonobo in every direction without any loss of identity. Ultimately, it’s his most refined and introspective album to date.