Ninja Tunes 2010
Vinyl (x2 with download code attached)/ MP3/ CD
1. Prelude (1:18)
2. Kiara (3:50)
3. Kong (3:58)
4. Eyes Down (5:26)
1. El Toro (3:44)
2. We Could Forever (4:20)
3. 1009 (4:30)
1. All In Forms (4:52)
2. The Keeper (4:49)
3. Stay The Same (4:45)
1. Animals (6:45)
2. Black Sands (6:49)
Simon Green – Produced and written, bass, double bass, Fender Rhodes, guitar, harmonium, harp, keyboards, mandolin, music box, piano, xylophone.
Andreya Turner – Vocals and co-writer on tracks A4, C2 and C3.
Jack Baker – Drums on track D2
Tom Chant – Bass clarinet and Sax on track D1
Graham Fox – Drums on track D1
Alan Hardiman – Trombone on tracks B1 and D2
Ryan Jacob – Trumpet on tracks B1 and D2
Mike Lesirge – Clarinet on track D2, flute on tracks B1 and D2, sax on track B1.
Mike Simmonds – Viola on track B1, violins on tracks A1, A2, B1 and D2.
Jack Willey – Sax on track C3.
Artwork – Oscar & Ewan, photography by Pelle Crépin.
Brighton’s very own world music version of Marco Polo and maestro of jazzy down-tempo glitch grooves, Simon Green, constructs those perfect serene indolent paced compositions so beloved of advertisers and TV executives.
Under the stage name of Bononbo, those ethnographically omnivorous absorbed tunes of his have graced computer games, Citroën car ads and countless TV programme montages, from the thumbs up use in Nathan Barley to the disparaging heavy use on Top Gear. Somewhere down the line, you’ve probably inadvertently caught a slice of Green’s, usually tapped down minimal beats, without realising it. This isn’t to suggest that the music is generic or perfect for those choice dinner parties, where aimless tunes are usually stuck on in the background – emphasising your apparent aloof tastes, whilst not choosing something that affects the banal conversation at these soirées.
The fourth studio album, Black Sands, moves on from previous efforts with a re-strained use of samples, choosing to go all out on the live instrumentation instead, resulting in a warm soulful vibe and emotive swells of melody. From the opening Indonesian flavoured strings on ‘Prelude’, to the Balearic chilled backing on ‘Kong’ and ‘El Toro’, Green infuses his cosmopolitan field trips to a wealth of global sounding instrumentation. The photography of lakes and lush mountains along with the insert sleeves topographical illustration enforces the idea of location and travel, which the ever-shifting diversifying themes constantly attempt to remind us.
Green is backed up on a number of tracks by the moody routed soul of Andreya Turner – a recent signing to Ninja Tunes, her debut album due out in May and produced by Green.
Her trip-hop toe dipping vocals drift in and out of tracks like ‘The Keeper’, a slinky number underpinned by vibrant xylophone and slow handclaps.
Turner co-writes the tracks that she sings on, delivering familiar themed topics of transient love affairs, played out to an environmental allegorical backdrop of vague references to seasons and changes – nothing exactly earth shattering or new.
Sometimes the mood shifts, and we get a slightly broodier melodic up-tempo number, like the counter-espionage thriller soundtrack feel of ‘All In Forms’, which includes Air probing bass lines, shakers and a sparkly rich wispy Fender Rhodes.
Plenty of chin stroking is in order with the break-beat jazz drums and hazy smoke filled atmospheric sax/clarinet combination of ‘Animals’, as tight flutters, cymbal tapping and rolls work up a sweat accompanied by a cool drifting double bass and a intricate sax solo. This one is for the true connoisseurs of which, no doubt, Giles Peterson must be nodding his head in approval.
The following self-titled track carries on the jazzier direction, but includes soft soaring Latin melodies and a chorus of dreamy inspired mariachi brass, creating a lasting pulchritude touching finale to the album.
Green has produced a rather linearly LP of various cultural drop-off points, as though compiling a musical version of the Lonely Planet guides to South America and the far east, all the while adding his very own personal anecdotal moments to the mix.
The strong use of woodwind, brass and strings coupled with the extremum calculated beats work well alongside the overall laidback inoffensive ambience – perfect to kick back to on a balmy afternoon.
Expect to hear many of these tunes on a multitude of TV dramas and ads over the summer.