Bondax's Revolve is Half-A-Decade in the Making and Well Worth the Wait
Evan Dale // Oct 12, 2018
The most momentous of returns to the world’s stage often go without brash marketing schemes or over-the-top celebratory extravaganzas. Instead, artists whose names have faded, but never disappeared into music’s dusty old photo album, often make reappearances whose only marketing required is genius in the music itself and a loyal fanbase who can recognize its antiquity-rooted place in a since-adjusted scene.
After a corrupted industry attempted to over-sexualize, market, and manipulate the music of D’Angelo in the wake of his acclaimed 2000 sophomore album, Voodoo, the lord of the neo-soul movement disappeared for a slew of reasons concerning ethics and creativity. When he reemerged with the surprising Black Messiah 14 years later, D’Angelo descended further into myth and legend while his album went on a driven course to return music to a point of instrumentalization, honesty, and individuality.
Now, Black Messiah is one of the most influential projects across neo-soul, R&B, hip-hop, rock, and modern jazz. Its sound is vibrantly recognizable in works as potent and universal as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Anderson .Paak’s Malibu.
In a similar space of long-awaited reemergence, British production duo, Bondax who played a hand in both grandfathering and championing the early-2010’s electronic explosion, has at last given the world Revolve. More than half-decade in the making and boasting a list of features and samples that would make any producer or fronting artist envious, the project’s quiet release may seem understated, but is in fact simply ethical and organic.
Organic too is the music of Bondax whose positioning adjacent to legendary electronic producers, groups, and individual artists from the time – Disclosure, Tourist, Purity Ring, Alina Baraz, The XX, Darius & Crayon – should not be taken lightly. Much of the music from just this shortlist of creatives has come to shape modern production standards. And when taken to account the rest of the sphere that revolved around London, Paris, and Toronto half-a-decade ago, the subsequence is immeasurable.
That influence is precisely what makes Revolve more than just an old duo’s new album but is instead a responsible and necessary bridge from electronica’s most recent golden era to a modern scene wavering to establish a new identity. Bondax’s firm confidence and their established direction coupled with the know-how of their approach and an understanding of electronic music’s recent trends, gimmicks, and successful experimentation makes for a project that could only be described as it is:
If I heard this album without knowing that Bondax put out a new album in 2018, my first guess would be that Bondax did in fact put out a new album in 2018.
Such observation may seem superfluous, but ask yourself this: how often can artists maintain such a recognizable auditory aesthetic and bring that signature into the modern light without losing what makes it so discernible in the first place?
Under the modern microscope, just D’Angelo and Bondax, which becomes a particularly impressive feat when you consider just how daring and experimental the musical approaches of both parties are.
Revolve is built on that experimental foundation, with open doors and windows that welcome in equal measure their long-surviving and still-fanatical audience with plenty of space allotted for new fans to establish admiration and enjoyment in their unique sonic texture. It’s rare now that electronic artists deliver such listenable or bubbly music without it slipping into the realm of ambient or bursting through its seams to a place of pop. And yet, here we are. Revolve is a miraculously clean project – something to be expected from Bondax. But, it doesn’t feel as expected as we thought it might. Instead, risks are taken wherever comfort is established in their ways of old. A collective of talented vocalists and lyricists dot the project at its every turn, but even though vocal features have long been signature to Bondax, the way they’re woven into Revolve’s sonic quilt feels refreshingly modern in its seamlessness.
Whereas Sam Smith used to cut through Disclosure’s production and steal the show, LA rapper, Duckwrth finds harmony with Bondax and a sense of modern balance defines Air.
In Last Light, Bondax blends their chime and light drum signature with the modern movements towards jazz and neo-soul, turning Revolve’s closing track into its most mindful and memorable.
All ten songs are a bold blend of what made Bondax a defining duo in the early-2010’s golden era with a route that electronica may strive to take as it looks forward. For that, Revolve isn’t only genius, but is also a defining electronic album belonging to multiple eras of the ever-changing electronic scene.
Welcome back, Bondax. The world missed you.