Bibio Vinyl, CD & tapes by Bibio at Norman Records
Stephen Wilkinson makes lovely and melodic electronica of the twinkling and tuneful variety, as Bibio. Residing in Wolverhampton, Wilkinson studied 'sonic arts' at Middlesex University where he developed his love of experimental music. Wilkinson is an extremely adept guitarist and weaves his acoustic playing-style seamlessly into the electronic keyboard drones which make up his blend of electronic folk. His love of the woozy, '70s-era electronica as beamed back to Earth by Boards of Canada, and Dilla-esque hip-hop beats remain foremost influences.
Wilkinson started his recorded career in 2005, with the album 'Fi' which was released on Mush records. It was a record filled with late-afternoon sunlit synth drones which betrayed those aforementioned loves. An ear for an easy tune with laid-back, warm ambience: these are themes which recur and had developed nicely once we come to 2009's 'Ambivalence Avenue'. Here is a Bibio record complete with Wilkinson's pretty guitar vignettes and lovely vocals which complement the sound perfectly. There was also a 'sister' album for total completion's sake: 'The Apple And The Tooth' contained four additional short, sparkling tunes and a host of fine remixes from, amongst others, fellow Midland-er Lone and fellow Wolverhamptonians Letherette.
All very nice stuff, which led up to 2010's 'Mind Bokeh'. It shone a spotlight on the magpie mind behind the Bibio sound: dusty old funk tunes, hip hop and dinky found sounds were all hurled into the blender to create something deceptively delicate yet strongly coherent. The influence of J Dilla's approach to sample-chopping-and-warping was clearer than ever, and Wilkinson's soulful vocal was the cherry on the cake. More than before, this was a record which realised that bittersweet melancholy evoked by the last few hazy, cider-drunk days of Summer. 2017's 'Phantom Brickworks' was an elegiac foray into ambient drone not dissimilar in style to William Basinski and epic in length. For 2019's 'Ribbons', the Bibio sound is back full-circle with extra lovely acoustic woozy gorgeousness.