Bonobo | Florida | Review

Words by: B. Getz | Images by: Liam Happenstance

Bonobo :: 01.16.11 :: Crunchay Sunday at TSI :: Jacksonville, FL

Bonobo by Liam Happenstance
Bonobo, producer/composer wunderkind from Brighton, England, tastefully runs the gamut of progressive Intelligent Dance Music. The artist born Simon Green has ambitiously tunneled his very own lane in the electronic arena. Traversing disparate styles with a certain flair and grace, Bonobo creates emotive downtempo vibes interwoven with ethereal, textured dubstep, classic breakbeat, glitch, atmospheric drum ‘n’ bass - all lush with orchestration and rich in songcraft.

Crunchay Sunday at TSI is a rapidly exploding party, debuting about a year ago, born out of the IDM scene in Jacksonville, Florida, with a focus on the dubstep, post-jungle explosion sweeping dance floors, warehouse parties, festivals and all points between. The event hosts the best underground electronic music the region has to offer, and often reaches out beyond. The Bonobo booking on January 16 was a veritable coup.

Green often performs his music with a diverse live instrumentation, the Bonobo Live Band, and the dynamic ensemble appropriates his IDM compositions in vivid living color. First and foremost, however, Bonobo is a DJ; modern in his progressive approach, but classic in an unadulterated penchant for demolishing dance floors. Crunchay Sunday was to be no different.

Bonobo by Liam Happenstance
Amidst a recent Southeastern US jaunt of smaller capacity club dates, Crunchay Sunday curators Ryan Emke and Vladimir Kulishevskiy (Vlad the Inhaler) aligned stars and moved mountains to secure a headlining DJ set from Bonobo to a satiate the TSI massive. This late breaking news spread like wildfire, and an interesting collective from Northeast Florida descended on the cramped, dank room - though not everybody was aware who was performing. But, the $18 dollar cover made it known that this night was to be something special.

Taking the stage after a rowdy and energetic (if unpolished) opening set from upstarts P.Y.M.P. (who featured members of Gravity A), Green wasted no time in setting the room ablaze. Painting soundscapes that blended original Bonobo tracks atop divergent mixes, the producer unleashed a torrent of four-to-the-floor rolling riddims. Steering a nearly two hour journey through subsonic netherworlds, Bonobo delivered a lesson in bass mechanics.

Toting a laptop, an assortment of samplers and armed with two turntables, Bonobo lathered up the raging crowd with instantly accessible grooves. Green furiously chopped and sliced through a myriad of horn-driven beats and delved into choice portions of "We Could Forever" and "1009" from his most recent (and likely best) album Black Sands (Ninja Tune).

Party People by Liam Happenstance
Late 90s jungle was THE early theme, with relentless, punishing breaks setting a frenetic pace and lacing old-school femme-fatale deep house vocals over the demonic thunderstorm . Green juxtaposed this sinister breakbeat aggression with brief, steamy downtempo grooves, and the Crunchay faithful responded in kind - a sea of bodies writhing, dancing, a collective bump and grind blissfully debauched.

Repeatedly, the careening vehicle slowly and deliberately arrived at throbbing, sensual downtempo, only to again release bombastic eruptions of unforgiving jungle rumble. A gearshift southbound, pulverizing bass captaining the ship, unlocked whatever inhibitions may have remained at the late hour. The audience became a sea of passions drenched in torrid aural eroticism.

Unveiling ominous vibraphones drenched in dub reverb, the driving stutterstep big beat of “Recurring” (from Days to Come) blasted off to the stratosphere, pushing the sonic envelope with masterful builds and releases. Later, "Yekermo Sew," a mesmerizing remix of Mulatu Astake's late 60s Ethiopian-Jazz classic, flew over more than a few heads. The set escalated with more classic jungle styles into a colossal dose of Afrobeat remixed with womping authority: an uplifting take on the Menahan Street Band's “Make the Road By Walking” (which many correctly identified as the sample from Jay-Z's monster hit “Roc Boys”).

The remaining portion of his two hour journey seamlessly navigated through dubstep ("Eyesdown" from Black Sands) and 90s drum 'n' bass before completing a cycle to arrive once again at Afro-Cuban and Latin-infused mixes of the same beats he first unleashed earlier in the set. Indeed a journey inwards and forwards, Green had taken us on a two hour tour de force. A true champion sound, Bonobo has started a fire in Florida that won’t soon be extinguished.

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[Published on: 2/9/11]

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