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Bonobo - Dial M For Monkey

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Artist: Bonobo

Album: Dial M For Monkey

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Jul. 24, 2003

Relaxation Nation

Sprinklers shush to life, misting the veggies to preserve top freshness. A gentle breeze whispers from the shore, swaying vacant rockers on sturdy wooden porches. Two girls play pattycake as they wait for mass transit. You breathe through your nose. You digest your food. Your mind and body are, if not quite at one just yet, at least at peace. You pop in Bonobo's Dial M For Monkey, and you relax.

The innovations here are in the art of the ease.

There are beats, of course. There's structure. (We all know where negative motivation gets you, baby, and that's no place.) Unlike the beats on some other Ninja Tune kickshaws we could mention, those on Dial M For Monkey don't head straight for the eardrums. They're content to ricochet softly off the canals. Placid chords stream together without the restless moodiness you get from the likes of Blue States. Dial M For Monkey is easy going. It's the antithesis of annoying.

Not to say it's bland. Not at all. Blandness is as annoying as anything. As annoying as a would-be shock jock playing the same Wesley Willis tune over and over for two hours. "Lush" would be the appropriate critical adjective here. Particularly regarding "D Song," which is as lush as anything else on Ninja Tune, or any similar label.

Each Monkey distraction is a new opportunity to return to the subject of meditation. "Something for Wendy" lets the beat kick a little harder than usual, albeit way down low in the mix. A few of the tunes near the end rattle like they've got parts loose, but it's never difficult to find your way back to Bonobo's tonic for anxious primates. You'll emerge with no recollection of any hooks, but with no desire at all to hock the CD.

By Emerson Dameron

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