A powerful metaphor for new love forms the centre of Bonobo's new single, First Fires. A perfect representation of what makes new album The North Borders so profound, Grey Reverend's verbal subject matter is married inextricably to Simon Green's delicate, highly charged production. This is no random guest vocal, it's a perfectly conceived, powerfully moving love song. The opening bars evoke the tentative drama of beginning to fall in love; the bass textures and gradually strengthening percussion fill the listener with anticipation. Green is now a master of his art, his genius showing in the small touches - delicate percussions, beautiful, unexpected chord changes - and adding up to a bigger picture that's genuinely moving. The track swells and swirls, moving naturally from a minimal beginning to something much fuller and richer. The more emotionally in touch among us might compare that to the process of love itself.
B side "Heaven For the Sinner", Bonobo's much vaunted collaboration with the legendary Erykah Badu, makes this single a true microcosm of The North Borders itself. Brimming with confidently expressed emotion, thrilling change- ups and a beautiful performance from Badu, it sees Green at the absolute peak of his powers. "Heaven For the Sinner" is a genuine meeting of minds, and in Erykah Badu, Bonobo appears to have found a true musical soulmate, and the ultimate vocal expression of where he's at as a musician.
Finally, bonus track "Know You" allows the music to breathe and focuses on moving the feet as much as the mind. A two-step glitch drives shifting textures and a dramatic arpeggio before giving way to a vocal clip that deepens the song's mood. It's difficult to imagine a better way to dive headlong into The North Borders' wonders.
12" + MP3 (ZEN12366)