Review of Black Sands Album by Bonobo

After the success of 'Black Sands' in early 2010, a remix album release was only a matter of time. The orchestral string arrangements, synthesized piano parts and sampled vocals within his work drew attention to Simon Green a.k.a Bonobo, who has been producing music since a teenager. 'Black Sands' was rewarded with critical acclaim, this lead to a series of remixes being collated by Bonobo and released as a stand-alone album.

Bonobo Black Sands Album

'Black Sands Remixed' contains interpretations of the original tracks from the likes of Falty DL and Mark Pritchard, some mixes contain more aspects of the initial work than others but each mix is very much individual and has its own identity. With 'Eyesdown' cropping up in different forms numerous times throughout the album it may have you swiftly returning to the original version, after four different arrangements the song seems to lose some of the beauty that was its initial attraction. However on 'Eyesdown featuring Andreya Triana and Dels', although the instrumentation has not been changed to a noticeable effect the distinct vocal flow brings to mind 'Ghostpoet' as Dels' urban London accent has a satisfying ring to it as it lies on top of the washed out synths.

In addition to the remixes Bonobo has included some unused material from the Black Sands era, 'Ghost Ship' opens with a distinct bass line as jazzy piano parts are added to the solid drumbeat, the track wouldn't have been out of place on Bonobo's 2006 effort 'Days To Come' and is a clear example of his funk and soul influences. The other previously unused song included on the album is second to last track 'Brace Brace' a soothing guitar part twinkles over a brass ensemble yet the heavy bass remains a common feature. The two tracks fit perfectly into the album, often providing a welcome break from the intriguing yet sometimes irritating remixes.

A highlight of the album is Mark Pritchards take on 'Stay The Same', Andreya Triani's vocals echo eerily over the dark bassline and screeching strings. The drums click consistently as the addition of a high hat gives the track a depth that adds to and compliments the surrounding instrumentation and samples. Immediately recognisable tracks like 'Kiara' (remixed by Cosmin TRG) and 'Prelude' (Finger On The Tape remix) are also included, making for a well varied album, other than the overwhelming number of 'Eyesdown' remixes, but what can you expect? It's a modern classic in the world of electronica.

So although 'Black Sands Remixed' doesn't compare to the original effort, it shouldn't be compared as it's an individual and completely different album in itself. The twelve remixes provide moments of gentle delicacy and intense emotion, whilst the two initially unused tracks are a welcome addition to the album.

James Hopkin

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