To this day, whenever I hear the name Simon, I think of the Mike Myers SNL sketch of the naive, neglected boy in the bathtub who fills the gaps in his life (dead mother, absent father) with “drawerings.” Even when I heard that Bonobo’s name is Simon Green, the melody from the SNL sketch I watched two decades ago still chimed in.
For some, Bonobo’s down-tempo beats and esoteric samples are immediately addictive, while in others, he passes almost completely unnoticed the first few times before gaining enough traction to realize how good it is, and to wonder how long your feet have been moving to the beat. I saw him open up for Pretty Lights a couple years ago and was in the latter category, dancing several songs in without realizing it.
I’m not sure what Bonobo means, or what it’s intended to represent. Simon Green is a quiet, soft-spoken guy who keeps to himself, and brings his family along with him on tour so they can remain close. This is clearly the music of an introvert. To me, Bonobo creates what I like to think of as really cool introvert music.
Green began in the world of producing and DJ performance in the late nineties, and began to slowly grow and seep out to larger audiences and at greater distances. It seemed as his audience grew, so did his music, incorporating the sensibilities and structures of music normally left outside of the electronic music world. He’s also among a group of producers merging the rhythms of afrobeat with those of Western dance music to create more of a breathing, alive sound. In listening to his catalog, he’s certainly not afraid to take a risk here and there, most likely because it seems like they always pay dividends.
As tempted as I am to post the gorgeous Black Sands, I’m going to post his recent BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix instead. It’s two hours of songs he created, remixed or that he just likes. It’s only the second Essential Mix I’ve listened to that I just started over after it ended, because I appreciated the place where the music took me that much. (The other one was Disclosure)