If you didn’t think electronic dance music was your cup of tea, the artist known as Bonobo might change your mind. His latest album, “Fragments”, mixes the loops and grooves of electronica chillout with a palette of sounds – strings, harps, vibrations and vocals – from the realm of classical music, world music and jazz. It solicits both the head and the feet.
“I’m interested in both,” Simon Green, aka Bonobo, said over the phone this week. “Dance music at its core has functionality, it has to engage the feet to make it work in a club. At the same time, you want people to stop and listen to what you’re doing. And on the occasions when you can do both, that’s the magic ingredient.
He will have a live band in tow for his show at Royale this Sunday.
The latest album, he says, was born out of a fascination with two instruments: the harp and the modular synthesizer. “There’s a dynamic of louder, quieter parts, which seemed to fit the vibe of the last two years. I like to work in loops and collages, so sometimes we start from a pretty abstract idea. This time, I started with a harp session, which was a simple way to form ideas. The sound of a harp is really that of a plucked string, which always attracts me. When I hear a harp, I think of someone like Alice Coltrane or Dorothy Ashby, that kind of witty jazzman. And the modular synths added that chaotic element that I also find interesting. I like the idea of encouraging accidents.
“I don’t see any limits in all of this,” he said. “I’m as inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins as I am by Detroit techno. So I really use electronic means to create any type of music that inspires me at the time.
The music was also inspired by solitary journeys in the desert, the only ones he could do during the shutdown.
“The environment doesn’t really affect the music, but it does change your mind. If there’s a theme to this record, it’s cycles and time, and the temporary nature of everything. The title “Fragments” is related to this – there are moments of frustration and moments of quiet acceptance of the waves of emotions. »
Besides doing club DJing, he has also done remixes for a number of artists.
“I find it less rewarding as a process lately,” he said. “It’s hard to come in and remix your favorite tracks. I’d rather try to remix a non-electronic track, something that has the potential to go in a different direction. It’s better when you can recontextualize elements of the original song and present them in a different way.
Bonobo has earned five Grammy nominations so far, including two for a recent collaborative effort, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. He hasn’t won so far and is slowly getting over it.
“It’s cool to be nominated, but the Grammys isn’t an aspiration I’ve ever had. It doesn’t change what I do, I’m really into it.