Up there with the likes of Fourtet, Jon Hopkins and Tycho, Bonobo is a world-renowned electronic producer/DJ who creates a spectacular sonic landscape with an authentic blend of trip-hop, ambient, IDM and his own unique twist. Long-awaited by fans, Migration is the Brighton-born producer's sixth studio release. If 2016 single Kerala is anything to go by, then the album is everything you'd expect... formidably intelligent, finely crafted and infinitely pretty. Released as Vinyl Double LP and CD on the Ninja Tunes label.
Vinyl Double LP £19.69 ZEN236
Heavyweight vinyl 2LP on Ninja Tune.
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 ZENCD236
CD on Ninja Tune.
Vinyl Double LP £24.99 ZEN236X
Deluxe Edition heavyweight vinyl 2LP on Ninja Tune. Comes in a gatefold sleeve with art card set and special edition Migration Zine, all housed in a clear wallet.
- Includes download code
Bonobo is a fairly reliable tunesmith. He makes pretty, cinematic music that generally hits the mark. Like many other electronic producers though he falls down when trying to add vocals to the brew. This is exemplified clearly on this his 6th album.
The instrumental tracks are pretty much everything you'd expect and want from a Bonobo album. The opening title track sets the scene with a delicious opening that will appeal to fans of dreamy electronics particularly Ulrich Schnauss as the muted pianos give way to pulsating drums, warm bass and distant shards of vocal samples. 'Outlier' too is an album highlight with it's opening trap beat and delightful curlicues of rhodes piano slowly evolving into one of those tunes that is going to sound so good on a sunny day if we ever get one. This is Bonobo doing what he does best and you may say treading water but when it sounds this glorious who cares.
It does seem that when he stretches out into different areas is where the album falls down. 'No Reason' for example is a bland ballad heading dangerously towards Coldplay territory with Nick Murphy's characterless vocals adding nothing to a forgettable track. 'Kerala' too is downright awful. An annoying vocal sample repeats ad nauseum and gets right on your wick. Luckily elsewhere Bonobo proves he is better than this. 'Break Apart' (feat Rhye) is probably one of the more successful vocal tracks but you feel that when he is writing for vocals he omits something in the music that makes his work often so special. 'Second Sun' is a delicious guitar and strings piece that reminds me of Mogwai's prettier moments and proves that Bonobo can explore other areas with success.
So a mixed bag then. The record is not without merit, most of these tracks will satisfy any yearning for previous career high points such as 'The North Borders' there's just the odd clunker in there but that's what your fingers are for.
7/10 Richard Davison 20th January 2017
I purchased the heavy weight LP version and am very glad I did the quality of the arrangements really comes through with a very involving feeling that keeps you wanting to play the entire album which I have every time I have put it on. Migration has the addition of having vocalists on four of the tracks, sadly they do not lift the album to a new level as they are all easily forgettable as you wait for the next track to come on and wash the previous away. The gate fold, additional art work and book all make for a quality product that is a joy to own.
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