Nocturnal sonic sheen

The beasts come out to feed at night. And Bibio’s second album on Warp, ‘Mind Bokeh’, is a joyride into new neon styles. It’s full of meaty tunes you can imagine bouncing round our inner city surfaces as gleaming cars sweep by blasting out their nocturnal sonic sheen.

“I wanted to make a contrasting album to ‘Ambivalence Avenue’, focusing on an overall more electric sound,” admits Bibio, AKA Stephen Wilkinson. “This is more of a night time album for me, not in its entirety, but tracks like ‘Excuses’ and ‘Pretentious’ are neon lights against a black background. ‘Ambivalence Avenue’ is sunshine filtering through trees to me.”

All twelve tracks are extremely playful, characterised by his detailed programming and layered approach. However a ripe number are bursting with joyous, soulful vocals that are dripping with the inherent grind of a killer R&B floor smash. “I love soulful music,” he concurs. “I wish my voice was as dextrous as my hands, but I try to think of the voice as another instrument, another sound.”

His track ‘Artists’ Valley’ is a lush slip into a luxurious world painted by MTV of Hollywood hills, tanning bodies by deep pools and flashy cars. It’s also a bit wonky, so the whole vibe comes across like Mouse On Mars producing TLC. Yet its origins are way more DIY and retro. “I was so in the zone when I was making it, and I write so many tracks I can’t remember how I did it. Most of my music is very physical; it’s made with very little mouse-clicking. I like to put my limbs into my music. I dig music that is trying to sound otherworldly and synthetic but by relying on fairly conventional instruments, like all that ’70s futuristic funk and disco. By modern standards, my studio is pretty dated, I’m very much a hardware person, again, for the physicality aspect - I hope that’s palpable in the music to the listener.”

The whole recording sways, shimmies and rarely stays on the same tack for long. Some is reminiscent of his previous pastoral work found on Ambivalence Avenue, but most is radically different in tone and pace, so how hard was this to juggle? “The truth is, The Beatles were doing this in 1967 on ‘Sgt. Peppers...’ by following tracks like ‘Within You Without You’ with ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. And it worked. Purists tend to get riled by such abrupt jumps, but for me ‘Mind Bokeh’ reflects the facets of my musical personality. I’m less of a purist now than when I was younger.”

Bibio Essentials
‘Pretentious’ (Warp)
‘Take Off Your Shirt’ (Warp)
‘Artists' Valley’ (Warp)


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