What I’m drinking to this time is the spectacular fourth album by Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, Black Sands. With his first release in over three years, The North Borders upcoming on NinjaTune available April 1st it seemed a good time to remember and drink along to the masterpiece that came before. It has such a chilled, cool and classy vibe that one expects from a modern cocktail bar that it could not be avoided in this series of reviews as it owes itself perfectly to be enjoyed with a great drink in hand.
The album’s first full track Kiara and it’s preceding intro (dubbed Prelude) starts it perfectly with the former being the pickout track of the release. It represents what the album as a whole does, a much more refined yet adventurous Bonobo but still keeping in with the raw sounding instruments and Eastern influences that we’ve all heard him produce before, laced with beautiful bass to match the violins and flickers of electronic delight. It has a very cool almost hip hop vibe about it brought through the drums which continues into the net track, Kong which has more of the same beautiful bass but mixed up a bit more with some great sounding soft guitar and soft, just distinguishable choral vocals.
After this comes the first of three tracks featuring singer/songwriter and fellow NinjaTune artist Andreya Triana, Eyesdown. Her elegant voice lends itself to Bonobo’s style perfectly, so soft yet with so much soul. On this particular song, with bass that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Synkro or Burial track her style of singing just simply works without being the main focus as a whole. We Could Forever picks up the album a bit more with a cool rhythm, catchy melody and funkier bass adding a bit more diversity but keeping with the whole album’s vibe.
Triana’s voice returns for tracks 9 and 10, The Keeper and Stay The Same. The former has a much more lounge jazz vibe, more coffee shop than cocktail bar with the vocals taking more of a front seat than before. The latter has some great saxophone playing to match her soulful vocals in an altogether perfect chillout track. Black Sands finishes with it’s title track and a very slow but sweet start of guitars and stand up bass before it is joined by some beautiful woodwind work that could almost make you think you were meandering down a quiet river somewhere in Europe. It builds and builds so brilliantly before peaking and slowly petering out. A softer but great end to the album.
And now for the drink to match the intricate yet mellow vibes in this outstanding album. We need something as diverse in flavour as Bonobo’s influences but overall slow drinking and perfectly balanced. For this, a drink with French liquer Chartreuse. Distilled since the 18th century by Carthusian Monks in the region surrounding Grenoble, it is a blend of over 130 herbs and spices that combine to make something with very intense and medicinal flavours. The ultimate cocktail with this spirit combines it with equal parts of gin, maraschino (a liqueur flavoured with Marasca cherries) and fresh lime juice. A perfectly complex yet well balanced sipping drink to enjoy the sounds of Bonobo to.
The Last Word
1 Part Green Chartreuse (55% abv)
1 Part Gin (An easy house style gin such as Plymouth or Tanqueray is recommended, nothing too strongly flavoured like Hendricks)
1 Part Maraschino (Luxardo is the most easily available good brand)
1 Part Fresh Lime Juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, top with ice and give a good shake before straining into a chilled Coupette.
Imbibe responsibly and enjoy the tunes!