British artist, producer and DJ Simon Green released his latest album, Migration on January 13. Although he has very little interest in monkeys, he adopted the name Bonobo, a kind of monkey, as the name for his musical persona.
Bonobo’s history as a DJ seems especially prevalent in this album. He does a great deal of mixing authentic “live” music with synthetic sounds and beats. Migration is an atmospheric album, a kind of sound I like to use as study music. It is upbeat enough to keep me awake and yet toned down enough for me to keep focus. The lyrics are never distracting; in fact, several songs lack vocals entirely or only have non-lyrical vocals.
While the lyrics that do exist in the album are by no means bad, they also do not stand out in any significant way and are rather generic and very repetitive. In the track “Grains,” the lyrics “One, sand/ One drop of water, water, sand” are repeated in various formations throughout the entire four-minute song.
While this is the track most lacking in lyrical creativity on the album, the other songs are not much better. I felt as if none of them had anything noteworthy to say.
Some listeners may disagree and find a great deal of meaning in his words, but this would partly be due to how incredibly nonspecific they are: they could mean almost anything if you thought hard enough!
Luckily, lyrics are not Bonobo’s area of expertise. Bonobo’s focus is rather in the sound and interplay of the musical aspects, and he does very well in providing a variety of atmospheres and unique textures throughout the album. For instance, one standout track, “Bambro Koro Ganda,” has a funky Arabic feel.
In a way, it is as though Bonobo took traditional chanting songs and remixed them. He keeps the authenticity of the lead voice and the percussion, but he renews its energy. This style seems to be unique to the entire album.
Each track in this album has its own feel, and yet they flow well together as a whole. While I am not generally a huge fan of remixes, I do find Bonobo’s style appealing because ,rather than making popular songs more obnoxious, he is either making an original work or remixing a style of music, but also keeping the song itself an original.
All this being said, I am not a massive fan of every single track on the album. There is one specific song, “Kerala,” that I find rather annoying, and others that do not particularly catch my interest or suffer from his lyrical impairment.