CL Feature: British downtempo trip hop jazzy producer/DJ/musician Bonobo, who brings his full band to Tampa on Sunday (with video)

In the current electronic music environment, virtually anyone with a laptop and the right software can try their hand at being a “musician.” The growing trend of modern innovators is, ironically, artists who aren’t afraid to go old school with live instrumentation.

Hailed as a downtempo pioneers, British producer/DJ/musician Bonobo (real name Simon Green) has been exploring his options beyond samples and programming since 2005, when he re-constructed five of his songs with live bass, drums, sax, keys, cello and guitar for his Live Sessions EP. In 2006, the Ninja Tune recording artist brought in a few singers and added live instrumentation to his sound for his critically-lauded third LP, Days to Come. His similarly well-regarded follow-up and one of this year’s many aural treats, Black Sands, expands upon this organic-infused aesthetic. “I just continued working where I left off on the last record,” Green told me when we chatted by phone last week, explaining that he’d grown tired of the beat-making process, but was re-inspired as he started work on a live record and discovered instrumental beat-making. “So I mixed it with the electronics into a cohesive whole that made sense.”

Green incorporates jazz, trip hop and funk-soul influences in his down-tempo grooves, brightens them up with classical and world music textures – swells of strings, horn arrangements, Latin and Afro-beat percussion – and adds some distinctive samples and processed noise. He generally introduces a new sonic component while casually ushering out another, sweeping symphonics on one track, flute samples and a jazzy guitar riff on the next. But his music still tends to have a grandiose, almost cinematic feel. Not that he ever goes into the studio with that intent. “I might just start with some abstract noise, try and find some harmony and rhythm within that, or start with an interesting sound and see what it lends itself to, see what direction that I feel it should go,” Green explained, boiling it down to “matching sounds and rhythms together to see what’s interesting.”