Electronic producer Bonobo, aka Simon Green, has never been the most original creative mind out there. His productions started off fitting snugly within those omnipresent chillout compilations, and along the way he has adapted by borrowing from more contemporary artists. His newest record Fragments continues in this vein, only occasionally breaking the mezzo-forte threshold and with vocal guests who are competent but inconsequential.
The Kaytranada-lite bump that characterises Shadows is very pleasant, as is Elysian’s mid-tempo blend of plucked double bass and swooning string melody. There is a moody, post-rave atmosphere to several tracks that brings to mind Jamie xx, particularly the syncopated synth chords and intricate coda of Sapien, while cut-up vocal samples on tracks like Counterpart wouldn’t be out of place amongst late-period Four Tet.
Tides wraps tender guitar notes around a sparse beat as Jamila Woods delivers lyrics with a satisfying sense of poetry to them (“we won’t be dry soon / here come the tides / you move when I do / you’ll never be mine”), though at no point does it demand attention from the listener. It, and many other songs, float around like the smell of an air freshener: serving its purpose, easily tuned out.
One of the more dynamic and imaginative sections is on Age Of Phase, where an uncharacteristically heavy drop features bass that morphs from chunky hits of noise to sonorous distortion and then to bitcrushed overdrive. It’s an interesting addition to a track which up to that point had merely been nice, and shows that Bonobo is capable of some real creation when he puts his mind to it.
Fragments does not outstay its welcome, but only because it isn’t distinctive enough to be consciously welcomed in the first place. Recommended for owners of trendy cafes and companies in need of hold music.