What is immediately apparent when listening to Black Sands, is the apparent compositional skill of Simon Green. Where Dial M for Monkey and Days to Come were great beat records, Black Sands seems to be heading to a totally different musical landscape.
Album openers Prelude and Kiara evoke scores to some of the great Japanese thrillers of the 60s and 70s, ripe with lush strings and a moody piano that transition into beautifully composed breakbeats and glitchy vocal snippets. Kong and All in Form feel a lot more like previous Bonobo offerings, but coated in a new focused and real-instrument-heavy gloss, that didn’t seem as apparent in earlier releases.
The vocal talents of Andreya Triana are very well placed in this record, a change from the more snappy style of previous collaborator Bajka. Triana’s dazed style fits neatly with Green’s jazzier feeling pieces like the excellent The Keeper, adding a nice narrative to the exotic and rich instrumentals.
Simon Green has leap-frogged from a really decent beat-maker, to a really quite impressive composer in a very short period of time. which leaves you wondering where he’ll take us next. Black Sands sidesteps expectations – as well as clichés – to provide a really rich and inventive instrumental tapestry that you really should spend some serious time checking out.
Black Sands is released via Ninja Tune on the 29th March.