Here he is again. His hair made into wonderful ribbons by whoever did the sleeve art. Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) returns to structured songwriting after his Phantom Brickworks ambient pieces. His sound as always incorporates ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelia, soul, ambient, electronica and field recordings but adds in the cut and paste sampledelia of the likes of Madlib and J Dilla.
Vinyl Double LP £21.00 WARPLP299
Black vinyl 2LP on Warp. Comes in a gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves.
- Includes download code
CD £9.99 WARPCD299
CD on Warp. Comes in a 4-panel softpack sleeve with 12-page booklet.
Vinyl Double LP £21.99 WARPLP299X
Limited edition, indies only purple vinyl 2LP on Warp. Comes in a gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves.
- Coloured vinyl
- Indies only
- Includes download code
It's hard to put a finger on why I/m not sure I care much for Bibio anymore. I loved Ambivalence Avenue, Silver Wilkinson, Mind Bokeh and pretty much everything up to A Mineral Love. His previous Phantom Brickworks was interesting in that took his music in much more ambient territories yet it felt the long form tracks outstayed their welcome somewhat.
Ribbons is back to the soulful acoustic sound he is known for and all the ingredients are there - lovingly plucked sun-dappled acoustic guitars, a gorgeous voice sailing over everything Dilla-ish beats, that worn, rusted production style. Lovely on the ears but I'm just not connecting with Bibio records like I used to. Are they maybe a bit too slick now, too knowing? Stephen Wilkinson could be seen as making a music as if off a conveyor belt - grabbing all the right ingredients but leaving the emotional connection at home. There's nothing wrong with much of Ribbons - Before is a particularly lovely track with funky bass and drums - a kind of Stevie Wonder feel to proceedings resulting in the sort of thing Toro Y Moi used to do so well.
Ah Toro Y Moi - there's an artist who truly disappoints these days. Bibio never makes anything bad in particular - tracks like Curls jut appear to be slightly overdone with violin blemishes that just feel unnecessary leading the track to head off just a little too close to Riverdance territory. See also: Watch the Flies. He's a hell of a guitarist and Ribbons once again blends hip-hop influenced tracks with more folk pieces that just consist of carefully plucked guitars and bucolic sounds. He's made tracks like Ode to a Nuthatch over and over again but that doesn't stop them being enjoyable.
The further I delve into Ribbons the more I think that all my problems with Bibio these days are my fault. He's doing nothing wrong here - and often Ribbons is inspired and inspiring and the only conclusion is that I've just had my fill of this sound - it's preciseness and carefully honed production strangely working against it to my ears. Even at my grumpiest though I just can't say that Ribbons is in anyway anything but a worthwhile exercise. There's much to enjoy here and it will perfectly soundtrack the (hopeful) beginning of Spring proper.
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