Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Keeper

Song: The Keeper
Artist: Bonobo
Album: Black Sands

The genre of "chill out" covers a much too wide swath of musical styles and interpretation, and since that catch-all phrase became hip a handful of years ago, it became over-used, over-marketed, and what once was a rather cool upstart genre (I'm taking 90's here) began to be used to describe just about anything... nu-jazz, trip-hop, downtempo... etc. I too fell into the trap while digging Morcheba, Moby, or even early Portishead, and picked up a three disc compilation entitled "Ultimate Chill Out" which, aside from a random Fatboy Slim b-side sounded like the rest was made in about a day on someone's laptop. "Chill out" doesn't need to mean "boring."

As I even just name the superstars of the genre, it shows that I just don't get into digging deeper into what ultimately, for me, is just "background music." It's not something I can sink my teeth into, and I suppose like actual jazz... it's hard to get into music that each song sort of runs into the other, song titles are abstract due to little to no lyrics, and often... I can't tell one artist from another. But, this is also a reminder that music can be a lot of things... and can be visceral, something that moves you by meshing with your current reality and becomes just another slight layer to a point in time, dialed back as not to be the forefront, but an accent. Despite knowing shit about jazz I love a lot of jazz and like the mood it sets.

"Downtempo" takes a lot from jazz... and incorporates that mood enhancing element as well. It's also a great accent while doing recreational drugs. (wink-wink)

Since I am not a downtempo connoisseur, I often find myself completely lost in the genre, a deep sea of stuff that falls into that "chill out" slot but often just isn't very good. So when I come across an album like Bonobo's "Black Sands" I rejoice a bit... I've got my new late night record!

Bonobo is the stage moniker of British DJ and producer Simon Green. His first single "Terrapin" was released in 1999 and over the last ten years he's released many many EP's and four full-length albums, including this years "Black Sands." It's hard for me to actually review this record, as I've sort of explained... because it's just a great mood piece. it's a mix of jazz, lazy beats, and world music instrumentation. It's just really cool and... (ugh) "chill." The album is mainly instrumental, but both current singles, "The Keeper" and "Eyesdown" feature vocals by Andreya Triana, whom also sings on the track "Stay the Same."

If you're like me, and dig a little downtempo but have no idea where to go, here's a solid record for you.


The Keeper


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