Published January 13, 2022
From the moment Fragments begins, you know you have arrived. Where is of little importance – it certainly has no physical location. Rather, it is a place of spiritual reflection and well-known dreaming, which British producer and DJ Bonobo, aka Simon Green, has carefully refined for over two decades. From the early days as a downtempo solo project, to becoming a worldwide headliner and five times Grammy-nominated, Bonobo has become synonymous with some of today’s best emotional dance music.
Fragments is Green’s seventh album and follows 2017’s wildly successful Migration. The album was recorded in 2020 and 2021 and took shape during periods of intense isolation and personal turbulence. Green sought solitude among nature to revive his inspiration and reached out to other artists like Miguel Atwood-Ferguson to add the album’s rich texture (see the string arrangement for the opener “Polyghost”).
The appropriate name Fragments was born, and features collaborations with, among others, Jordan Rakei, Jamila Woods, Joji and Kadhja Bonet (a particular joy is the use of harpist Lara Somogyi’s samples throughout). Green’s music fluctuates smoothly between downtempo and dance and continues to inspire introspection and immersion among listeners. It’s hard to imagine a world where this latest release will not reap the same critical acclaim as its predecessor.
The most awe-inspiring moment of Fragments arrives with “Otomo”, with O’Flynn. With little access to a real dance floor, Green somehow manages to bottle the magic of a rave through its bass-heavy collapse and pulsating energy. Most notable is the six-minute masterpiece sampling a Bulgarian choir that lifts the dance track to hymn proportions.
Similarly, “Age of Phase”, “Rosewood” and “Closer” hold the dance floor potential, while “From You”, “Tides” and “Day By Day” evoke Bonobo’s classic roots. Especially Bonet’s vocals on “Day By Day”, as well as the elegiac saxophone, are immediately reminiscent of Andreya Triana’s liquid gold in the 2010s Black Sands. It concludes the album with the hopeful chorus, “Inches too empty, day by day / We want to make this a better place.” In this way Fragments maps the ebb and flow of our collective struggle and perseverance, and chooses to end in optimism.
Although Green excels at the many production-heavy elements, such as sewing the perfect loop or drumming together, he remains unchallenged when it comes to his ability to create organic sound that is at once full-bodied, warm and filled with textures from the ground up. round. Also, Bonobo’s growth over the last two decades has seen a natural and consistent progress; each record builds beautifully on the last. Fragments is no exception. It’s an album to find love again; to revive creativity; to regain hope; and find connection. (Ninja melody)