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Black Sands
Bonobo Black Sands
Released 29 March 2010
Producer Bonobo
Label Ninja Tune
Length 54:51
Genre Electronic
Website www.bonobomusic.com

Every year you find at least one album that blows every other album out of the water. These are records you just can't get enough of and there will usually be one track in particular that you play over and over again. You'll keep coming back to it even though you think you'll wear it out, but you know you could never really get sick of it. It's just too perfect. It's like falling madly in love I suppose. Black Sands the latest release from Bonobo is one such album.

Simon Green, it seems, can't put a foot wrong; his career and musical development is truly staggering. Black Sands is an extremely mature and accomplished record steeped with infectious hooks, challenging layering, delicious beats and an impressive array of instrumentation. Given the success of Green's last release Days To Come his next album was always going to be tough. But the acclaim that release garnished apparently hasn't had any effect on this release.

The album has the unmistakable sound of Bonobo and of course the usual genre pigeon-holing can be applied but I prefer not to go down that road and simply talk about the music. 'Prelude' opens up the record and is a beautiful piece of orchestrated music with a slightly oriental sound that morphs wonderfully into the following track 'Kiara' which has a rounded, deep beat accompanied by an instantly addictive bassline. The main melody from 'Prelude' continues throughout and is punctuated by vocal snippets.

'Kong' and 'El Toro' are reminiscent of The Cinematic Orchestra but not in any derivative or negative way and I find it delightful that contemporaries such as these rub shoulders and share influences so openly. 'We Could Forever' also brings a Cafe del Mar feeling to the record and again this just seems to inspire more and more enjoyment. Bonobo seem to gather sounds that work and process them through a filter of his own idiosyncrasies and sensibilities thus producing music that tips its hat to its sources but never blatantly references them.

The highlights of the record comes with both '1009' and 'All in Forms'. I cannot stress how addictive both tracks are and to my ears they are utterly perfect. They both grow and evolve effortlessly and possess so much depth both musically and sonically. '1009' has one of those heart wrenching melodies you just can't get enough of and 'All In Forms' with its drifting synths, descending guitar riff and shy yet piercing vocal line make the duo absolutely sublime.

Both 'The Keeper' and 'Stay The Same' feature Andreya Triana who provides a soulful tone which lulls us after the excitement of the previous tracks. 'Animals' has a nice bit of tension leading us into the final track 'Black Sands' that has a slightly Sicilian feeling and ends the record on a bittersweet note.

I find it very difficult to criticise or find fault with this record as I am smitten with its miasma of tonal exuberance and blinded by its simplicity of purpose which is to provide enjoyment to the listener and Mr. Green certainly has done that with Black Sands.

- Gary McDonough