(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

F1 (Mush, 2005). , 6/10
Hand Cranked (Mush, 2006) , 6/10
The Apple And The Tooth (2009) , 4.5/10
Vignetting the Compost (Mush, 2009) , 5.5/10
Ambivalence Avenue (2009) , 6.5/10
Mind Bokeh (2011) , 4.5/10

Bibio (English multi-instrumentalist Stephen Wilkinson) originally created delicate tapestries of acoustic guitar, electronic effects and field recordings on F1 (Mush, 2005): the time-keeping device of It Was Willow that evolves into a tapping minimalist dance; the murky polyrhythms of Wet Flakey Bark that evoke a dying heartbeat; the repetitive guitar melody Cantaloup Carousel that zigzags through a minefield of speed alterations; the methodic pattern of Poplar Avenue that gets diluted into aquatic echoes; etc. The collection does not boast any breathtaking moment, just a broad range of styles, from the distorted drones of I'm Rewinding It to the folkish guitar fantasia (a` la Leo Kottke) of Looking Through The Facets Of A Plastic Jewel. However charming and intriguing, these are just ideas. Wilkinson fails to capitalize on them to produce some substance.

Hand Cranked (Mush, 2006) better organized his electroacoustic collages, with guitar loops and field recordings playing a more subliminal role. The Cranking House returns to the Leo Kottke-esque guitar fantasia but this time grafts it onto centrifugal instruments that seem to play other songs. The merrily cyclical Cherry Go Round employs two or more intertwined repetitive patterns. Quantock is even more intricate and jangling, with sudden bursts of melody. There are increasingly ambitious cases of out-of-tune guitar polyphony (Zoopraxiphone, Overgrown) and of non-guitar minimalism (the piano-based Above The Rooftops), but also attempts at atmospheric muzak (Dyfi) and even a song, Aberriw (not a welcome change). The dialogue with natural sounds is vastly reduced (except in Ffwrnais). Sometimes repetition and distortion are signs of a creative mind. Sometimes repetition and distortion simply hide a lack of inspiration.

The mediocre The Apple And The Tooth (2009) contains some leftovers and some remixes.

Completing the transition from avantgarde to pop music, Vignetting the Compost (Mush, 2009) was his most trivial album yet, a collection of predictable songs in the vein of the Boards Of Canada.

Ambivalence Avenue (Warp, 2009), instead, marked the peak of his baroque beat-sculpting art with a compendium of trip-hop, hip-hop (S'vive), folktronica, and even old-fashioned funk music (Jealous Of Roses). Best are the cubist deconstruction of soul balladry in Fire Ant, the dadaistic techno of Sugarette and the ominous industrial dance of Dwrcan. This is the album that gave a semantic foundation to his syntax. Alas, the collection begins with the ethnic pop muzak of Ambivalence Avenue, another misguided attempt at reaching the mainstream audience (duplicated in Lovers' Carvings). The songs just don't stand up to the instrumental ideas. Over the years, Bibio mutated into a completely different beast, and the most intriguing part of the story might be precisely how one beast led to the other.

While similar in scope and style, Mind Bokeh (2011) feels like a collection of leftovers from Ambivalence Avenue, with the only notable exception of Take Off Your Shirt, his first successful rocker.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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