Bibio is a UK electronic music producer and multi-instrumentalist who has been consistently producing academic grade, organic sounding, electronica since studying “sonic arts” at Middlesex University before jumping into the vast British electronica scene. His music sounds like the most complex 1960’s folk one can imagine but has moments of ambience and MIDI level instrumentation that keeps the music firmly in the present like a flower child hiding behind the pages of a Popular Science magazine.
His earlier stuff was a warm blanket, hot tea, and a front porch overlooking a chilly savannah view and was generally as amazing sounding as the best stuff from bands like Boards of Canada, Four Tet, and Nick Drake. Check out the Ovals and Emeralds EP for a great cross section of this period, notably the astoundingly good track “Carosello Ellitico.” His middle stuff saw the incorporation of vocals and more streamlined songwriting in place of textures and atmosphere and consequently he lost a lot of fans due to his apparent dissatisfaction with his identity as a musician. Check out Ambivalence Avenue and Vignetting the Compost for a sample of how he started turning into a folk singer. Conserved amongst all his music is the feel of idyllic benevolence, a relaxed demeanor which plays to his advantage and assists in continued adulation from his fans even as he moves from genre to genre.
Bibio’s “À tout à l’heure”
Somehow, his most recent release Silver Wilkinson (Warp Records, May 14 2013) bridges all his previous sentiments together within the confines of one single release and is a major breath of fresh air for his floundering songwriter persona and the state of electronic music in general. What’s amazing about the record is its totally unassuming air, its accessibility in the face of being experimental, and his return to his early signature textural production which is generally incredible and addicting. Recorded alone in his home studio and outside garden, he has an excellent ear for extraneous sound collages which fit together within the context of his folk songwriting sensibilities. He has seriously hit his stride here: the electronica is welcoming, the guitar work serene, the basslines compelling and rich. Percussion is at a premium here, favoring the feel of a soloist’s project.
Lead single “À tout à l’heure” hits the ground running with intricate finger-picked guitar work produced to the point of sounding like a sunbaked cassette tape that made Bibio famous. It seemed an overt return to Bibio of old but out of nowhere this fat bass melody comes in and his vocals arrive playful, with strong craftsmanship in a way that previously he’d have mishandled. Check the astonishingly pretty music video for this track which was 13 years in the making. The rest of the album follows suite with this opener, each track incorporating crisp transitions with languid, lo-fi instrumentation that soothes the ears while entrancing the mind into an active contemplative state. Nodes of singer-songwriting heavy tracks like “Dye the Water Green” and “Mirroring All” set a tone of expressivity and introspective lyrical prowess. These tracks are balanced by the more overt electronica focused “Look at Orion!” and “Business Park.” Excellent examples of the middle ground (the likes of which have been absent for most of his middle releases) include the ephemeral “Raincoat” and “Sycamore Silhouetting.”
Bibio has successfully humanized the rigidly patterned world of electronica for almost 10 years now, somehow infusing sway and emotive instrumentation into the world of laptop music in a way that really no other musicians have been able to. His music is signature, catchy, idyllic, and soft-spoken. Now that he’s worked his formula into an excellent handshake between two disparate worlds, here’s to hoping he finds satisfaction with his niche and forges onward as the pioneering musician he can be at his best.
Written by Case Newsom
OurVinyl | Senior Writer