Bibio - Ribbons - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Bibio - Ribbons

by Justin Pearson Rating:7 Release Date:2019-04-12
Bibio - Ribbons
Bibio - Ribbons

English musician Stephen Wilkinson, known primarily as Bibio, seems to have more in common with artists of the 60's and 70's than his contemporaries. His music generally falls into the electronic and experimental genres, but there's a thread of psychedelic-tinted folk running through much of his work that sees him closely aligned with the naturalistic music of the past instead of the auto-tuned artificiality of a lot of modern music.

On the follow-up to 2017's purely ambient Phantom Brickworks, Ribbons sees Wilkinson once again dabbling in proper song structure - vocals and all - while yet still retaining his multi-faceted talents as a musician and producer. The track 'Curls' is a standout that embodies the mood of much of the album which overflows with spring-like songs that bud with ideas both new and old, feeling largely pastoral with its delicately plucked guitar, flute, and even a fiddle. It feels like you're inside a fairy tale, especially during the floating chorus: "Her hair curls in the damp of the night / The scent recalls like a photograph with life." Fiddle and guitar also color 'Watch the Flies' and 'It's Your Bones', but the result is more like an Irish-like jig followed by an Irish-like folk song. 'Erdaydidder-Erdiddar' is also in the same vein, with the addition of shifting time signatures and children's voices.

'Pretty Ribbons and Lovely Flowers' is one of the most interesting tracks here, even for an artist like Bibio. Haunting, processed vocals seep up from underneath industrial-ish, squishy/bassy synths. A good way to describe it would be like dreaming under water. It sounds out of this world, but not out of place.

One of the album's other highlights is 'Old Grafitti', its infectious shuffling rhythm echoing some of his best stuff from either Ambivalence Avenue or Mineral Love. It's one of those top-down driving songs that instantly puts you in a good mood.

The exciting thing about an artist like Bibio is you never know quite what to expect. Even after listening to Ribbons multiple times, there's little surprises to be found in the sequencing of tracks or the phrasing of certain melodies that keeps it interesting throughout. It doesn't feel completely of a whole piece, or something easily pinned down. More satisfyingly, it plays instead to the strength of Wilkinson the shapeshifter.

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