Bonobo, Futexture, Robert Rice
Electronic/groove act Bonobo headlined the Pour House behind a new disc called Black Sands.
It takes damn near acts of God for good DJ’s come to Charleston — particularly world-class acts like Brighton’s Simon Green, who records as Bonobo for highly-regarded British hip-hop/world/jazz/beats label Ninja Tune. You’re more likely to hear Bonobo’s music —whether his more down-tempo studio recordings or the grooves he spins in his DJ sets — on crate-digger Gilles Peterson’s hip BBC Radio 1 Worldwide show than in your average Saturday night bumpin’ beats club. How the promoters booked him outside of New York and L.A. was a mystery to us, but we were happy to see a packed crowd.
The night started off strong with sets by Asheville’s Futexture (fun, twitchy dubstep) and local Robert Rice (IDM). Though both sets were more heady than danceable, Rice built up waves of tension that cleverly hinted at, but never quite gave into, the expected body-shaking release.
That release came quickly enough when Bonobo stepped up with instantly accessible grooves. Armed with two turntables, a laptop, and a couple of samplers, Green rapidly chopped and sliced his way through an endless batch of funky-as-hell horn-driven beats, including sections of tracks like “We Could Forever” and “1009” from his most recent, and certainly best, album Black Sands (Ninja Tune).
After an outstanding remix of Mulatu Astake’s ’60s Ethio-Jazz classic “Yekermo Sew,” the set built to a spacey, trance-esque peak reminiscent of the Field’s most recent effort. The second half effortlessly flowed through dubstep (including “Eyesdown,” a single from Black Sands) and ’90’s-sounding drum ‘n’ bass (always fun to hear) before eventually circling back to Afro- and Latin-inflected variations of the beats from nearly two hours earlier.
It all made sense: This was the soundtrack to that 4 a.m. kitchen dance party we’ve always dreamed of. Why wouldn’t this work anywhere in America?