Fresh from his North Borders tour, Simon Green, the man otherwise known as Bonobo, delivers even more on his new three-track EP Flashlight. Around since 1999, the British producer has always tried to keep his sound fresh and original and Flashlight is no exception, exploring new territory in a series of scintillating, yet understated, dance tracks. Departing from his older work, Flashlight delivers a mixture of up-tempo and ambient beats against the backdrop of orchestral strings.
Speaking recently to Billboard about his newest EP, Green had this to say about Flashlight:
“I made this in summer 2014 during some downtime between touring. [Return To Air] was the last track I made before leaving New York and packing my studio into storage. In a way, it’s the last page of that chapter before I settle again and start the next album.”
In this way, Flashlight itself is less of a compilation and more of a transition, an interim period between two musical styles; a bridge between two albums.
Opening track Flashlight is a mesmerising introduction, which gradually builds up into a crescendo of synthesisers and truncated Japanese flute sounds, giving the song multiple layers of rich and exotic, feel-good vibrations. It’s the kind of song you can zone out to, but choose to return to at any moment and still appreciate.
Second track Pelican begins with a series of mysterious echoes and then segues into a sequence of percussive beats. An indecipherable and disembodied voice piques up soon thereafter, punctuating the song intermittently as it progresses into a something akin to what I can only describe as an electronic rainforest.
Finishing off with Return to Air, Bonobo starts off quietly as if in an empty room full of voices and ringing xylophones that quickly morphs into a collection of organic instrumental noises blended with uplifting synthesisers. Return to Air is definitely where Bonobo is at his most comfortable. All three tracks bleed into one another, foregrounding each other and laying the groundwork for this final track, which fades off gently into the background as the EP comes to an end.
The EP is less of a collection of three tracks, and more an extended play of an interrelated piece of work, punctuated briefly by intervals of silence before picking up where it left off. I think it’s this kind of interconnectedness that gives Bonobo’s work a broad appeal. The inclusivity of his music is also what makes it so listener-friendly: you can tune in and out at any time and still feel like you’ve been listening to song the whole time. Perhaps it’s a combination of these elements that have provided Bonobo the longevity to sustain a 15-year long musical presence.
Check out this live set of Flashlights below:
Flashlights is out now via Ninja Tune Records.