Bonobo: Black Sands Remixed

Bonobo, Black Sands RemixedBonobo: Black Sands Remixed
Full disclosure – I approach any album with “Remixed” in the title with some trepidation, and the new Black Sands Remixed set from Bonobo (producer Simon Green) was no exception.  Two years after Black Sands was released (Ninja Tune, 2010), a lot of water has passed under the musical bridge, and I fretted that the aggressive, greasy tweaking of 2012’s dance producers would bury the earthy and contemplative grooves of the original.
Turns out I worried for no reason – Black Sands Remixed takes the contemplations and meditations of the original material and keeps them up all night, smudging the original ideas in interesting ways without discarding them in favor of studio tricks.  For example, the opener, “Prelude (Lapalux‘s Finger on the Tape Remix),” takes the vaguely Oriental strings of the original to the bottom of the koi pond, while Alex Banks‘ rework of “The Keeper” carries Andreya Triana‘s lovely vocals off into a dream.
The standout single “Eyesdown,” again featuring vocals by Andreya Triana, gets the deluxe makeover package, with four interpretations in this collection.  The already pensive mood of “Eyesdown” is ratcheted up to nearly unbearable levels in Machinedrum‘s drum ‘n’ bass interpretation – you’re hanging on by your fingernails – while ARP 101 pushes the vocals deep behind his signature tangled electronics.  The Floating Points remix of “Eyesdown” is the winner, picking up the worried tones of the original and stretching them out into a Nuyorican Soul workout that eventually leaves all cares behind.
Similarly, the confessional single “Stay the Same” gets a couple of reworkings here: Mark Pritchard reimagines it as coffeehouse jazz, with Andreya Triana’s vocals supported by bare-bones instrumentation way in the back of the mix, while the Blue Daisy “Not Quite the Same Mix” moves even farther away from the original, as if the vocals were coming from the room next door, occasionally drowned out by what might be the sound of your heartbeat.
In between several other remixes, two non-album tracks, “Ghost Ship” and “Brace Brace,” seem to indicate that Bonobo’s bag of tricks is still pretty full, and DELS‘ rhymes over a bonus version of “Eyesdown” bring a grittier dimension to the track.
In the end, Black Sands Remixed is a rewarding and worthy companion to the original album – unquestionably a different vibe, the cooler, more mysterious sounds of the night versus the original’s warm, slightly mystical jazz of the daylight.  All the reinterpretations here are thoughtful and seem to indicate an appreciation for Bonobo’s eclectic imagination – kindred spirits coming from very different directions.  The more you listen, the more you will hear those spirits coming together on this excellent collection.
Rating: 9.0/10
Mp3: Bonobo featuring Andreya Triana “Eyesdown (Floating Points Remix)”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl