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REVIEW: Bonobo's electronic-crossover masterpiece, 'Fragments'

Posted on January 14 2022

REVIEW: Bonobo's electronic-crossover masterpiece, 'Fragments'

Words by Keane Fletcher

Sure, spending time in isolation was/is/will be different for everyone. But for most people I've spoken to, the long days and empty nights combined with pandemic-fatigue, screen-overdosing and plain ol' boredom has sent most of them into a fugue state, dissociating until it's time to step outside and enjoy the sun again. Well not so for Si Green, aka Bonobo, the internationally acclaimed British-born-LA-based musician/producer/DJ who's latest album Fragments, conceived and created during lockdown, takes all of our collective angst and channels it into what can only be called his electronic-crossover masterpiece.

For Si Green, life was pretty hectic until the pandemic hit. It's been over 20 years since he started Bonobo as a solo project, and in that time his career has become one of the biggest in the biz, racking up 3 GRAMMY nominations, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Dance album chart and performing for millions at some of the world’s greatest music festivals. So when that was all forced to come to a halt in early 2020 he did what any great artist does, he channeled it into art. And thus Fragments was born. 

Taking its cue from the natural world, Fragments is both intimate and grand, hypnotic and razor-sharp, perfect for those dark nights of the soul that many of us are experiencing at the moment. Impeccably structured, meditative tracks like 'Polyghost (feat. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson)', 'Elysian', and 'Counterpart' feed into and weave between more philosophical treaties on the human condition: songs like 'Shadows (feat. Jordan Rakei)', the tropical house-infused 'Rosewood', and of course, previously released singles 'Tides (feat. Jamila Woods)' and 'Otomo (feat. O'Flynn)' which features, amongst other things, a Bulgarian choir. 

It's this kind of scope which elevates the album above similar projects of this sort. Indeed, the album is jam packed with contrasting textures, Green leaving no sound unturned in his pursuit of greatness, juxtaposing digital beats and effects with more organic sounds like strings, acoustic guitar, and of course, the human voice, giving the album the kind of post-anthropocentric feel that one usually finds in the best kinds of science fiction. In this regard, Bonobo is the latest in a string of artists (Holy Holy, Lorde, Grimes, Taylor Swift) who are turning their attentions to -- and finding solace within -- the natural world. 'Consider that my time away/ was working for the soul' sings Jordan Rakei on 'Shadows', and the sentiment reverberates through the album like a personal credo. 

All in all, with Fragments Bonobo has reached a new career high, delivering an album that is as intensely listenable as it is thought-provoking, both sombre AND danceable, and one that many of us can take solace in when the world seems as though it's falling apart. 

Stream it now on all good music streaming platforms!

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