The North Borders, Simon Green's fifth album as Bonobo, wasn't heavy on artistic progression. Still, it was a beautifully cohesive body of work from the producer who's arguably become Ninja Tune's anchorman in recent years. With its first single, "Cirrus," now (unsurprisingly) in the hands of the BBC's sync department, First Fires is the next offering.
The title track, featuring Cinematic Orchestra affiliate Grey Reverend, is the opener on The North Borders. The Brooklyn-based singer's stirring vocals are set against an ethereal backing that's reminiscent of Bonobo's early output. On "Heaven For The Sinner," Erykah Badu's distinctive tones are suspended over swaying chimes and fractured percussion. The combination of Badu's sidewinding riddles and the complexity of Green's orchestration occasionally gives a slightly clustered feel, but this is only a minor gripe given the overall synergy between the two.