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I Disagree: ‘Fabric Presents: Bonobo’

Bonobo switches it up on this album, combining elements of house music with ethereal sounds from nature.

Dominique Dungo

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Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing Music Journalism Program, our music team was asked to pick out a recent album review that they disagreed with. Their task was to explain why they didn’t share the viewpoint of the reviewer. 

Bonobo (AKA Simon Green) is a British musician, producer, and DJ based in Los Angeles, who specializes in a blended style of trip hop, electronic, jazz, nu jazz, and down-tempo. His release, Fabric Presents: Bonobo, in February 2019, changed it up with house music.

Pitchfork published a review of Fabric Presents Bonobo, “Popular on the festival circuit, he’s known more for his live sets than his skill behind the decks.”

I disagree.

Bonobo is a highly talented DJ that not only sets the bar for being able to create melodic down-tempo tunes, but can work his music like an orchestra. It’s like walking into a green forest during the start of sunset, fresh air blowing onto your skin, with the sounds of birds and butterflies flying around.

It shouldn’t be ignored that he is a talented artist even behind decks when he is creating.

“His melodies and live instrumentation hint at a fondness for jazz, soul, folk, and minimalism. All of those were featured to sterling effect on Bonobo’s Late Night Tales mix a few years back. Fabric Presents doesn’t exactly play to those strengths; instead, he’s in upbeat house mode.”

I disagree with this because even if Green switched to house specifically for Fabric Presents, he doesn’t subtract his style of ambient, soulful, and melodic style that comes naturally when listening to Green. Even though it’s not as jazzy as his other tunes, you could still point out that this album represents him by adding the nature vibe and sounds, and his beats that feel like happiness, magic, and contentment.

It sounds like when you wake up in the early morning sunrise in a cold desert or forest, camping in the middle of nowhere smelling the fresh air and surrounded by good spirits of friends. Even though he did this, he most definitely still kept the album alive and is as equally strong as his other tracks.

“Too many overstuffed, heavy-handed picks—like Dark Sky & Afriquoi’s ‘Cold Harbour,’ with its vocoder, thumb piano, acid bass, polyrhythmic percussion, and twanging strings—start to bog things down.”

I disagree that all the instruments and percussions of this whole album have too many overstuffed, heavy-handed picks. Green is all about the instruments and beautiful melodies that include Will Saul’s vocals in “I build my whole world around you,” to Dan Kye’s falsetto R&B and Titeknots’ heaving strings which is what makes Green experimental and exotic. He’s not afraid to step outside of his comfort zone of ambient, soulful, and down-tempo and bring in instruments and other musician’s tunes and vocals into sets.

For an album from Bonobo featuring house music, it sets the bar high for house music in general because of the experimental grooves Green adds on to make it danceable and enjoyable for everyone in the crowd.

Pitchfork’s review was ineffective with the writers intent on educating viewers who Bonobo is as a musician and creator. Green paints music that feels like magic.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Dominique is a Photo and Music Journalism student in SoCal. She has a radio show on her college campus focusing on talented and upcoming musicians from Los Angeles and is working to finish her degree. In her free time, Dominique is a fire performer and loves traveling, Jazz, Drum & Bass, and making music as a vocalist.

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