“Black Sands” achieved the impossible: it reclaimed - and gave a patina of seriousness to - a sound fossilised underneath the countless evolutionary layers experienced by the abstract entity many call downtempo. Ninja Tune has always bet unconditionally on Simon Green’s talent. They have championed him since 2003 and have supported his sound experiments in narcotic waters unconditionally. Right now, we can consider the Brit as an honorary member of their family.
Without destroying the pillars of the electronic universe with an ultramodern discourse, the producer managed to present a sweet, sampladelic mush of hip hop, chamber pop, soul, jazz, and melodic dub for the mature listener to gel in “Black Sands”. It was sort of like an evolved version of what used to be known as trip-hop. The press and fans responded to Green’s call, and, without seeming to make a big deal about it, his fourth album became a small, attractive anomaly in the local underground - even though we were right in the middle of a big storm of bass. So it’s no surprise that Jonathan More and Matt Black have put “Black Sands” through the wringer. But it’s different, since they have taken a discourse far from the most innovative currents—even classic, if you press me on it—and left it in the hands of some of the most intrepid navigators in the current digital ocean. The play of light and dark works perfectly, and unlike the majority of remixed albums, the idea adds extra dimensions to the original universe. It offers new views that allow us to taste the reality of Bonobo from blind spots, where our perception had been restricted before in the original work.
The shamans that guide us through this ceremony are not exactly cheats: they dominate the magic of low notes with the shamelessness of the new generations of beat magicians. Lapalux takes “Prelude” to the hallucinogenic territory of Brainfeeder and forges a remix that takes your breath away. Machinedrum accelerates the percussion of “Eyesdown” and surpasses the original, injecting spurts of post-dubstep into the patient’s veins. Floating Points gives great danceable depth to the same song, and makes you imagine what would have happened if Everything But The Girl had been born during the bass era. Mike Slott walks the tightrope without a net, taking apart “All In Forms”, before putting the cadaver back together with low notes from beyond the grave and bass echoes that will bring you out in goose bumps. Falty DL experiments with atmospheres and rhythmic imbalances on the same track, while remaining faithful to the psychedelics of broken basses and retro synthesizers that characterise it. Blue Daisy takes “The Same” home to his roost and makes the song a mass of ultra-dense dub that doesn’t even let out light.
There is not a single remix that doesn’t live up to its name. One appreciates the pampering, the clear choice of quality. Bonobo, also gives us “Ghost Ship” – a track that was heard at the celebration of Ninja Tune’s twentieth anniversary - a reworking of “Eyesdown” with the raps of DELS, and the incredible “Brace Brace”, a cup of jazz-funk with a whiff of Blaxploitation that give the delicacy even more value. I recommend not paying attention to your intuition: I swear that this time, the remixed version is better than the original.