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Bonobo Black Sands Remixed Review

Remix. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A varied listen every bit as interesting as Black Sands' singular vision.

Mike Diver 2012

Widely acclaimed upon its 2010 release, Simon Green’s fourth album as Bonobo, Black Sands, was the sort of immersive experience which didn’t sound like it would lend itself to a track-for-track remix reinterpretation. And so it proves, as this 14-track compilation visits the same song a handful of times (inevitably the fine single Eyesdown), while offering a pair of nearly-new productions that never made the original album, Brace Brace and Ghost Ship (the latter was a freebie to promote Ninja Tune’s XX anniversary set).

Green’s little black book must be one he keeps closely guarded, as there’s an impressive line-up of talent on show. Lapalux might be a new name to some, but his forthcoming When You’re Gone EP, on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, might change that – Radio 1’s Benji B has been highly supportive. The Lapalux take on Black Sands’ intro, Prelude, stretches it to nearly four times the original’s length and throws a hard drive of wobbly effects at it: needless to say what was a curt, elegant introduction is mutated into something wholly different, but certainly of an equally high quality.

The Banks remix of The Keeper sticks rather closer to its source material, embellishing what was there rather than attempting a complete rework, the core structure much as it was before.

Standouts present themselves in very different ways. The Machinedrum take on Eyesdown gives the Andreya Triana-voiced track an incredibly potent shot in the arm, with Travis Stewart transforming the trip-hopping vibe of the original into something rather more juked up. A version of the same number with additional vocals from Big Dada rapper Dels is a treat, likewise Berlin-based producer Cosmin TRG’s treatment of Kiara – whereas the Black Sands version is a strings-soaked broken-beat half-step, here it’s possessed by an ominous energy which spins its way close to the atmospheric electro of Modeselektor.

But perhaps the most awesome remix is saved for the end: Duke Dumont’s ‘Grains of Sand’ reconstruction of the title track has to be one of the most beautiful works of sound art this side of Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath, 1972. Close your eyes: it’s a perfect rescoring of Blade Runner’s sci-fi city vista scenes.

If Black Sands was a very organic-sounding experience, then there’s no doubt that the likes of ARP 101 and Floating Points bring a more synthesized sound to the fore. But by varying these floor-friendly versions with cerebral offerings that take Green’s blueprints and then actively look the other way, …Remixed makes for a listen every bit as interesting as Black Sands' singular vision.

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