The conception of British producer Simon Green’s sixth album as Bonobo evolved out of a transient and recalibrating life experience. True to the titularly ecological bent, Green joined many of his fellow New Yorkers by making the move west to Los Angeles, in his case shortly after he completed the tour cycle for 2013’s The North Borders. Jarred by personal turmoil and sudden displacement, Green sought respite in the variegated wilderness accessible to LA. It was in this state of solitude that he was able to collect many of the textures that make up Migration.
Deprived of this biographical morsel, it would not be overly shocking if the listener reached similar emotional territories simply by listening to the album. For starters, the eponymous opener would serve well as a headphone accompaniment to the inevitably draggy airplane taxi, perhaps in light drizzle. Matter of fact, the serenity of rain trickles down gracefully onto the lounge-doused “Outlier” and Brandy-sampling “Kerala.” Here, synthesized sonic components are often treated with elemental qualities, including the requisite air to breathe. While much of the Migration experience is ruminative and isolated, Green occasionally encounters other creatures along the way, including Rhye’s Michael Milosh, Nick Murphy (f.k.a. Chet Faker), and the Moroccan ensemble Innov Gnawa.
The stifled chug of chopped samples, as on something like “Ontario,” has often been the inciting rhythmic element in Bonobo’s formula. It’s present here, but it’s no longer the guiding light. Leaning somewhat away from trip-hop and toward the more ambient stimuli of his surroundings, Green sounds like he’s in transition, captured between two established ecosystems. With Migration, he may have taken one twelve-track, 3,000 mile step closer to reaching his natural habitat.