Bonobo: ‘Flashlight’ EP Review

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Fans of Bonobo rejoice, because Simon Green has been hard at work cranking out an abundance of new material recently. With his latest EP release, Flashlight, on December 1st, we get even more original Bonobo just in time for the holidays. Though it’s only three tracks, it gives us a little something to chew on, as well as a peek into what Simon Green may have in store for the future. And after of few loops through Flashlight, the future looks bright.

The Flashlight EP covers the typical Bonobo spectrum of sounds, with tracks ranging from effervescent and spacey to shadowy and driving. The self-titled first track, “Flashlight,” leans towards the latter, accompanied by a strong mesmeric grooviness, undulating organic loops, and layers of ascending synth-warbles. It crests, bends, and turns back in on itself more than once, and lends itself nicely to repeated listens. “Flashlight” is a powerhouse opening track, and likely the strongest on the EP.

“Flashlight” gives way to the more punctuated “Pelican.” Driven by fluttering bass pulses and paper-thin submarine synth, “Pelican” takes things in a more spacey and dissonant direction. Here we get some effect-laden vocal blips played as an extension of Bonobo’s classic synth palette. The heavily modified voice effects are applied subtly as always, and help to reinforce the warmth and organic body common in so much of Simon Green’s compositions.

The word fluttery keeps coming to mind for the mood of Flashlight, and “Return to Air” continues the theme, finishing out the brief EP to the tune of a slowed-down trickle. The result is a warm and spacious landscape that tumbles it’s way through each of its successive layers. “Return to Air” is a return to Bonobo as we know and love it; mellow, melty, and encompassing.

Like most of Simon Green’s efforts, Flashlight EP functions as a kind of cerebral massage. The result is easy listening electronic music at its finest and most relevant. But it does not overdo its self-aware mellowness to a fault, and most always leaves you wanting more. He manages to blend accessibility where you would like it with just enough edginess and funk to keep you from getting bored. Though it is really just a snippet, Flashlight EP revisits Bonobo’s already-established sonic themes and hints at more promising material to come.

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