Label:Ninja Tune Release Date 29/03/2010 Link: Myspace Review by Katie Taylor It’s easy to see long summer days and hazy sunsets from the pentatonic loveliness of Bonobo’s Japanese-style ‘Prelude’. The sweeping strings become enveloped in typically hand-clap shoulder-wiggle drums as the album progresses through second track ‘Kiara’, surrounding the main tune with electro fuzz-bass and building to what can only be described as a summer anthem-style crescendo. As Mr Green’s albums go, Black Sands hangs on to all the tweaks and happy off-beat melodies that you’d expect. After such a rousing and uncharacteristically serious opening, the track list becomes more comfortable and settles into a Bonobo sound recognisable from space. Using samples, under-used percussion (triangle and cowbells anybody?) and woodwind, they are comfortable enough with the interesting sounds they create to build texture within their songs, as well as creating a mightily sub-conscious pervading hook. For those not particularly familiar with Bonobo’s stylish mix of breaks, jazz, hip-hop, soul and funk, Black Sands really has a good bash at slotting all the parts of music they make and love into one pretty little mixtape. Aside from being initially refreshing though, further listens reveal depths and intricacies that you can’t help but smile at. What a cheeky little drum break! Fantastic violin theme there! What on earth are they using woodblocks for in 2010? Sometimes a bit of eccentricity in your music can go a long way into lifting your spirits. If there was ever such a thing as a chart-friendly Bonobo track, rather than state the obvious and claim it was “Eyesdown” (which features the familiar luscious tones of Andreya Triana); “We Could Forever” has the appeal and clap-along joyfulness of a song that forever reminds you of your best ever holiday. Whether or not the Top 40 is ready for an entirely lyric-free barefoot guitar and flute rant is quite another matter, but if it isn’t, there will be a large swathe of the population who’ll miss out on what could be their soundtrack to 2010. Of course, simply using words like “summer”, “happy”, “carefree” and “textured” aren’t going to ever create a real sense of what this album sounds like. It is far more mature than simply a collection of sounds created in order to capture the “ooh, that’ll be nice for a road trip” market. Never becoming too saccharine or passive, each song has its own way of grabbing attention, as if it knows that aside from your earphones there are a lot of things to keep you occupied. “All In Forms” is a perfect example of this unashamed attention-seeking, and where usually an album can become stale towards the second half, the sound changes to a more electronically-driven break. There are no castanets on this track, that’s for sure. Think Burial-style half-misheard lyrics and an eerily beautiful layering of samples. Of course no album is perfect, and there are times throughout Black Sand where the more laid-back wooden-beads-and-kaftans tracks can feather into each other and fading obscurely to the back of your playlist memory, but the sheer quality and number of standout tracks more than make up for this occasional lapse into ‘vegan’ usualness that can sometimes mar a person’s opinion of Bonobo. This highly diverse album will hopefully change this opinion, not for Simon’s sake, but for the sakes of those who think they don’t like lovely music. You do. Trust us. Photobucket