Tag: Bonobo

Ramblings: On Field Day, Films, Foals and Black Foxxes


No sooner am I done getting excited about getting tickets to see Run The Jewels than Field Day release the awesome news that RTJ will be closing the main stage on the 3rd June.

Field Day is an interesting festival; every year the lineup feels a little obscure and unfamiliar but they have a tremendous habit of sensing where music is going, rather than celebrating where it is right now. Last year’s festival was unbelievably wet and muddy, but sets by the Black Madonna, Bicep, Yeasayer, Four Tet, John Grant and Jackmaster were too good for any weather problems to leave me feeling anything other than elated.

This year they’ve consolidated the festival into one day, and the line up largely has that familiar ‘music to be discovered’ feel. I’m a big fan of Haelos and Run The Jewels, and I’m looking forward to Clams Casino, Moderat and Algerian rockers Imarhan. But the great thing about Field Day is the trust you can have in the bookers; whatever stage you end up watching you’ll be seeing something interesting and fresh.


January seems to be the season for festival lineup announcements. I saw Leeds & Reading Festival(s) post on Twitter today that they’re due to announce some acts this week, SW4 have announced Deadmau5 – in addition to the recent revelation that Pendulum will be reforming – as headliners and Citadel today announced Foals in a UK festival exclusive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to avoid the lure of Foals…

Onto domestic matters and I’m delighted that Antonia and George have made their debuts on the site. Antonia’s excellent review of Manchester by the Sea can be found here and George has the world of LPs covered; It’s Album Time will be a regular feature and kicks off with Bonobo’s Migration here.

Astral Penguins will – initially – primarily be a music blog, but I’d love it to become a place where those who love culture and want to read thoughtful opinions and passion about different fields can visit. George and Antonia bring with them lifetimes of passion and knowledge and it is my pleasure to give them an outlet.

Finally I got a Songkick notification today telling me that Black Foxxes are supporting You Me At Six at their forthcoming Alexandra Palace gig. I’m a big fan of BF and had the pleasure of seeing them last year. Their debut album was one of the most assured and interesting first releases of 2016 and I’m delighted that they’re getting the opportunity to play to a wider audience. Good luck to them.

I’ll be back this evening with a Track of the Day and tomorrow we’re debuting a new feature on cover songs. Until later…




It’s Album Time: Bonobo – Migration

It’s Album Time: Bonobo – Migration

British producer Simon Green, aka Bonobo, returned this month with the release of his sixth studio album, Migration. As you’ll soon hear, it’s a welcome comeback for his first release since 2013’s The North Borders.


Opening with the title track, there’s an otherworldly feel, almost as though it could have been recorded in a secluded forest. There are hints of Mogwai in their more mellow moments, and following the first few listens it seems the perfect introduction to what will follow. “Break Apart” provides more of the same, adding Bon Iver style vocals from R&B duo Rhye, and building to a horn-fuelled finale.

Unfortunately the album isn’t without fault. I could personally take or leave the next track, “Outlier”. At almost 8 minutes long, I’m not convinced it adds anything to the album, and it comes across as a Four Tet knock off. It just sounds a little too familiar. “Grains” does its best to regain momentum with male and female chanting, giving off a spiritual and atmospheric aura – the beat that is finally introduced at the halfway point lends a more expansive and cinematic feel.

There then follows an interlude of sorts in “Second Sun”. It’s more modern classical than electronica, featuring piano and strings woven around each other, but is a welcome break from the usual bleepy synth. However, this feeling of relief is tempered as it is followed by the other damp squib on this release, “Surface”. Nicole Miglis, of the band Hundred Waters, provides a vocal which is hardly worth shouting about, and I can’t help but think that the instrumental alone would have been a more worthwhile contribution.

All is not lost though, as the album builds further to its summit. “Bambro Koyo Ganda” takes vocals from North African collective Innov Gnawa and adds a subtle bassline and sampled drum pattern. These beats made from everyday sounds are present throughout the release, and lend a semblance of uniqueness to each track. I say semblance, as it’s a tried and tested method, as used by many of Green’s contemporaries.

The triptych that follows forms, undoubtedly, the peak of the album. “Kerala” takes a Burial-style, broken, 2-step beat and adds harp samples. The soothing sounds draw you in, only for a vocal to introduce itself like a Destiny’s Child offcut. Everything blends perfectly, to provide one of the highlights of the album. Hot on its heels comes “Ontario”. Often used in electronica, the trusty sitar makes an appearance to add a global feel. It winds around piano chords and a melody is formed that occasionally lifts to the most glorious heights. Completing the hat-trick is “No Reason”. Already singled out by Mark in his A-List column on Sunday evening, the best vocal on the album (supplied by Nick Murphy, otherwise known as Chet Faker) is enveloped by a great drum track, and gentle staccato synths, perfectly straddling the line between melancholy and euphoria.

The album draws to a close with “7th Sevens” and “Figures”, both of which are very pleasing, but feel a little like electronica by numbers. Nonetheless, they provide a fitting conclusion to the album.

Not without its drawbacks, the release as a whole is a fine piece of work. Historically I’ve always favored albums that leave the best until last – Michael Jackson’s Bad always springs to mind with its closing gambit of “Dirty Diana”, “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone” – so with each listen the first half of the album is growing on me, while the anticipation of what is yet to come builds.

As with any electronica, don’t expect to hear it in the clubs, but I could imagine it would be well-suited to a live performance, just as it is to soundtracking your daily commute, or your Sunday morning in bed with the papers. I’d recommend you give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

HIGHLIGHTS: “Kerala”, “Ontario”, “No Reason”.

The A List – the best 10 tracks around – 22 January

logomakr_0q2tabHere’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Every Sunday I post a new A List,  an insight into what I’m loving right now. This has been a ridiculously good week for new music so there’s a fair bit of change from last week. I try not to be too hype-tastic about music – as the blog goes on there will be weeks when I’m less sure about stuff or periods where I feel there isn’t a huge amount of quality music – but I feel the stuff I’ve posted since Monday has been of a very high standard.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (New Entry)

A lullaby for insomniacs. The Black Madonna has brought created a musical cosmic masterpiece that weaves in jazz, disco and strings. It’s a stunning record that has a hugely cinematic quality; bold in design and divine in execution. Well worth reading this interview with her from Mixmag.

2. Bonobo – No Reason (New Entry)

The Bonobo album is giving a lot of my friends a lot of pleasure, and No Reason is a real highlight.  Mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.

3. LOYAL – Moving As One (New Entry)

Last Wednesday’s Track of the Day, LOYAL’s Moving As One has plenty of layers that span different genres and enough musical ability to bring it together seamlessly.

4. Esther Joy Lane – Ever Ever (New Entry)

I was a little unfair to Esther Joy Lane on Thursday when this was Track of the Day, as I hadn’t heard her debut EP from 2015, which is well worth checking out and has a different sound to the two tracks I’d heard. Ever Ever is a cracking song that – as I said on Twitter – gets better with every listen.

5. Army of Bones – Don’t Be Long (Down 4) 

An unexpected indie treat. Strong pulsing guitars and a polished melody makes this a fine January listen. It struck me this week that this sounds an awful lot like Richard Ashcroft’s Song for the Lovers, which is no bad thing at all.

6. Harlea – You Don’t Get It (New Entry)

Our first ever Track of the Day on the site, You Don’t Get It has a sturdy blues rock base and adds in a splash of rock and roll and a small pinch of pop. It’s confident, familiar and distinctive, not an easy combination to pull off.

7. The XX – Dangerous (New Entry)

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. I struggle to think of another band who have so effectively stated a change in direction and a stepping-up of their sound as The XX have with Dangerous.


8. Ed Sheeran – Shape of You  (Down 6) 

A straight up pop banger originally written for Rihanna. This is perfectly simple, yet highly effective. He’s still blowing away streaming and download records, and with a new album due soon, he’s could make 2017 his year.

9. Dan Croll – Away From Today (New Entry)

A slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

10. Code Orange – Bleeding in the Blur  (Down 7) 

A nice chunk of dirty rock and roll, with waves of feedback and a dark, menacing vibe. This is my first introduction to Code Orange, but I look forward to hearing more of their stuff.

You can listen to all ten tracks here:


This week: 6 new tracks to tickle your ears


This is a little later than I intended, but today was my first day back at work (not as horrendous as I thought it would be) and then my new puppy (Max the Yorkiepoo) decided I wasn’t allowed to blog until I’d played with him. A lot. He’s adorable, so its all good.

Anyway, here are six new tracks to tickle your ears. These are songs I’ve only listened to a couple of times but liked a lot; this playlist acts as my main listening guide for the week and hopefully they’ll appear on Sunday’s A List 

Let me know what you think of the tracks and/or if there’s something you think I’ve missed. Astralpenguinsmusic@gmail.com.

 1. The XX – Dangerous 

The XX released their third album I See You on Friday, and Dangerous is the opening track. It’s a tremendous statement of intent; ‘I won’t shy away’ they sing, ‘I’m going to pretend that I’m not scared’. It could easily be the band discussing their own shift in style; here is a brave and rather brilliant track – horns and all – that verges on a dance track. I’m slightly blown away by their ambition, execution and all-round brilliance.

2. The Black Madonna – He Is The Voice I Hear 

The Black Madonna became the DJ to see in 2016. She brought the party like no other; her eclectic picks were more than matched by her superb dancing and extensive knowledge of all dance music ever. But as this (brilliant!) Resident Advisor film shows, life on the road can take its toll. So when I first heard He Is The Voice I Hear, I wondered if this was her ode to the journey she took last year; a weird and wacky ride that takes in strings, disco-beats that could easily come from a Moroder track and a jazzy piano part. This sounds like creativity meets exhaustion; the kind of song that can only be written/produced in the small hours when there’s no one else to relate. It sounds to me like a lullaby for insomniacs. I could be entirely wrong, but I’m refusing to read anything else about it because, well, I like my explanation and I’m sticking to it.

3. Dan Croll – Away From Today 

Every Friday I get an email from Communion telling me what they think is awesome. I have waited patiently. And finally, here is a track I rather enjoy. Away From Today is a slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling. But for the ridiculously abrupt ending, I rather like this.

4. FREAK – Cake 

Loud, thrashy and suitably angry, FREAK came onto my radar in the second half of 2016. Hailing from Chelmsford, this young man has bags of talent and he kicks off 2017 with a bang: Cake sticks to his – very solid – formula. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to see him live in the next few months.

5. The Paper Kites – Breathing Fighting Love 

The Paper Kites released their last album – twelve four – all the way back in 2015. The album’s concept was to write in the early hours of the morning (hence the name) and it produced – in parts – a creeping and slightly disconcerting edge to their work; in particular I was a big fan of album opener Electric Indigo. Now they’re back with two track that evidently didn’t make the cut for twelve four. Breathing Fighting Love is a very solid track that reminds me of some of the darker Fleetwood Mac tracks.

6. Bonobo – No Reason 

We finish with a superb piece of electronic music. Back in December 2015 I became slightly obsessed with a track by Rufus called Innerbloom; so much so that it was one of my three most listened to tracks in 2016 (according to Spotify). No Reason is from a very similar mould; mournful vocals are matched by elegant electronic touches; it’s a claustrophobic listen that leaves you wanting to curl up in a blanket and hide away from the world.