If Simon Green (Bonobo) made indie British rock he'd have been on a half dozen magazine covers by now. But, he dance music, downtempo fare at that; hardly the stuff of mass recognition. As for Remixes and B-sides, whether critical clamoring or a rumored label jump prompted it, fans who wisely snapped up his debut Animal Magic are given material far better than what that title may imply.
Led by a slow Dixie whistle and cello, shimmering electronics in the background, his spin on Pilote's "Turtle" may be the freshest chillout tune this year. A simple melody yet effortlessly catchy, it's an example to the hundreds of tunes flooding the market that, while politely programmed, fail to leave a discernable impression. Mechanical Me's "Beachy Head" nearly tops that, a melancholy ballad with captivating vocals processed like a 50s era record - the stuff of comps for sure (think Royksopp "Sparks") - but with an extra dusting of magic.
Other efforts prove similarly amicable; the keyboard pips of "Dismantling Frank," heavy drums anchoring "The Sicilian," and the crackling vinyl pops, horns, and castanets of sterling closer "Scuba," a foray into breakbeat. Soulful, sweeping soundscapes are explored throughout, a style some artists (cough, Moby, cough) merely attempt to emulate.
To be fair, remixes of "The Plug" and "Dinosaurs" offer a new spin but nothing startling, while a rework of Amon Tobin's over-indulgent "Fout Ton Mantis" provides the lone stumbling block. Still, there's an ocean of jazzbo/instrumental/downtempo ... bands playing similar material, with very few with musical ideas worth sharing. Bonobo is on the short list.