Posted on September 20th, 2014 (11:35 am) by Casey Bauer

There’s always a little fear bubbling underneath the anticipation of seeing one of your favorite artists in concert. You never know what to expect, and of course the biggest fear is simply that they’ll prove to be a better studio-band, failing to put on a good live performance and potentially crushing your love of them forever. Bonobo however, doesn’t disappoint. If there’s anything better than Bonobo, it’s Bonobo live.

The North Borders Tour Live album will drop on October 6, a date for which fans can hardly sit tight. It’s not actually a recording of a single concert, rather, a compilation of moments in concerts and radio sessions over the course of the entire 18-month tour. Along with the cd, fans also have the option of purchasing a hardback book (featuring stories and pictures from tour), as well as a DVD with behind-the-scenes goodies, interviews, and footage of that one time Bonobo performed in Pula Arena, an ancient Roman cathedral in Croatia.

From start to finish, the entire album does two things: makes you move and sparks an intense jealousy of all the people that saw these performances live. Bonobo (a moniker for British musician and DJ, Simon Green) is praised for always performing with live musicians, a characteristic that can threaten to overcrowd a stage. These live performances, however, display balance in every note and musician. Every sound that spills off the stage weaves together in fellowship and lush ribbons of complex instrumentation, and yet, Green composes songs with such grace that every musical section can stand alone and carry a song by itself. Lucky for us, though, he throws them all together to create the sublime.

The album has all the favorite Bonobo tracks from his past albums, but a few of them are performed back to back, seamlessly jumping into one after the other. The heavenly swell of violins kicks off Black Sand’s “Prelude” into “Kiara,” a combo we know and love, but a slow fade into “Ten Tigers” follows without interruption. Just when you think it can’t get any better, Green immediately settles into that unmistakable bass line in “Kong,” then morphing effortlessly into “Ketto,” a track from 2006 album, Days to Come. This makes for a sixteen minute highlight reel that we and the crowd go crazy for, multiple times.

Despite being able to hear the audience, the sound quality on TNBTL is truly phenomenal. Fans are there to experience the music, not talk over it, making the album crystal clear. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of all those other live albums where the sound is smothered by relentless screeching fans and oppressive, echo-y venues. Often times, it’s easy to forget that the album is live at all, but then a sharp intake of breath from a featured horn player, or the resonate throbbing of Green’s bass followed by a yelp of approval from a concert-goer reminds you that Bonobo really does sound this good outside of a recording studio.

Green also brings his guest artists on tour with him, a fact we enthusiastically celebrate. The raspy elegance of Corneliacan be heard in a remixed studio session of “Pieces,” where a glistening piano, muffled drumset, and gorgeous oboe make for a very lounge-esque soundscape. Andreya Triana reprises her role as soulful vocal hypnotist in “Stay the Same,” and without a studio boxing her in, she blooms. With flourishing vocals, she never quite stays in tempo, rather, meanders around it, and the result is stunning.

The North Borders Live album showcases that Green is not only a musician and DJ, but also a composer, a modern day big band leader, a pioneer, and a performer. If you’ve never seen Bonobo in concert, I pity you, but in all seriousness, this album is the next best thing.

Track List:

  1. "Cirrus"
  2. "Stay the Same feat. Andreya Triana "
  3. "Heaven for the Sinner feat. Szjerdene "
  4. "Prelude-Kiara-Ten Tigers "
  5. "Kong-Ketto "
  6. "Emkay "
  7. "Towers feat. Szjerdene "
  8. "Recurring-We Could Forever "
  9. "Transits feat. Szjerdene "
  10. "Know You "
  11. "Pieces feat. Cornelia"
Bonobo: The North Borders Tour - Live
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

87 / 100
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