Back to Bonobo basics: How Simon Green made ‘chill-out’ cool again

Green has become one of the most courted live acts in Europe by being unashamedly thoughtful and personal with his music

Dreamy melange: Bonobo

Dreamy melange: Bonobo

 

Fresh from the release of last month’s beautiful Migration, the artist born Simon Green appears to be at the peak of his powers. Bonobo’s career has traced a steady ascent from being the underground’s artist of choice for a post-club comedown, to one of the most courted live acts in Europe, with chart topping releases either side of the Atlantic to boot.

His audience might have steadily grown but his stock in trade remains the same; a dreamy melange of lush strings, found-sound sampling and plucked instrumentation. His sweet, intricate compositions pitch him somewhere between the melancholic noodling of Boards of Canada and the club ready shuffle of dancefloor-boffins Four Tet or Floating Points, his albums swollen

with crescendos and lulls that drip with audio artefacts; reversed and phased synths; and barely pressed keys that hover on the edge of perception.

This is thoughtful, personal music imbued with an unashamedly sentimental streak, and true to its roots whether they be hip-hop, house, jazz or soul – his laidback, contemplative style even giving a resurgent respectability to the much-maligned “chill out” descriptor.

If few tug at the heartstrings quite like Green, fewer still translate that immersive power of a great-on-headphones album such as Migration or Black Sands to the grandeur and energy of live performance. Having spent 18 months touring 2013’s exquisite The North Borders with a 12-piece band, Bonobo ended up playing to crowds in 30 countries, and more than two million people.

This time out, he’s undertaking a live schedule so intense he cancelled his media commitments – including an interview with this paper – to focus solely on tour rehearsals.

All of which means, if this tour is as successful as his last, we deserve at least part of the credit for staying out of the great ape’s way.

  • Bonobo plays Dublin’s Vicar St on Monday, February 27th
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