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Genius, but only Human
on 4 August 2013
To my mind, Si Green has assembled for himself an almost flawless discography, with me highly rating pretty much every single song he's created. Considering his fairly prolific output, that's a feat unmatched by any other artist in my collection - to my ears at least. Thus he stands on a pedestal, in a loved but perhaps precarious place.
With Black Sands the logical epitome of the sound he'd created, what came next was always going to have to follow a slightly different route, else always play second fiddle. The North Borders sensibly does mark a modest departure from the prior formula, largely via the use of differing rhythms. At the same time, it also also marks a return to the more sequenced structure of earlier work, in contrast to Black Sands' more organic feel.
Does it work? Up to a point. Technically, it's flawlessly assembled, but it's proving lighter on the emotional melodic hooks that earlier work always snared me with, and it was that ability to never fail to deliver that had Si Green up on my musical pedestal. The fella's only human, and to my ears, this album represents the first slight misstep. That's not to say there is not some very high quality here, but where present it's diluted by a (shock! horror!) skippable track or two (naming no names, Erykah & Cornelia...), and thus the collection is not quite the accustomed vintage of yore.
There's a possibility that my review here may be a little hasty. A couple of instantly-liked tracks aside, Black Sands took quite a while to grow on me, before eventually realising it was one of the best* albums in my vast eclectic collection. Off the back of that, how could any new Bonobo album realistically measure up, initially at least? So if I do change my mind, and I assign The North Borders to greater much melodic heights, I'll be sure to return and 'fess up.
I'm fascinated to hear what Si Green creates next. I'm tremendously optimistic he won't do "a Zero 7" on me, and in the words of Keegan "I would love it, love it" if he returned at an ever higher level than that reached previously, somehow managing to surpass the heavenly heights of Black Sands. Regardless, and in the meantime, I must thank Mr Green for bringing to me over the years some of the most wonderful tunes ever laid down.
Speaking of which, Cirrus, Sapphire & Ten Tigers, what new joys.
*The Best Album? The Chameleons' Script Of The Bridge of course.