Release Date: Mar 29, 11
British producer Stephen Wilkinson is the man behind electronic name Bibio, his musical outlet that occurred after studying “Sonic Arts” at the University of London. If only it could be that easy for the rest of us. Some mysterious peoples claim his music is a genre called intelligent dance. If you are one of them, I invite you to listen to his newest release, Mind Bokeh, and tell me just how intelligent it is. As much as it’s a good and consistent listen, it doesn’t scream genius.
The whole album takes off eerily, in a scratchy yet familiar Bibio tone. Dripping water can be heard during the increasing volume of the two-minute instrumental before the vocals come in sounding faded, far away and/or underwater. It ends like an annoying glitched ringtone you hate to love.
Now for something called “Pretentious,” the track doesn’t sound all that mighty whatsoever. It’s more of like a dream sequence from The Fall if the Gorillaz composed it. In the beginning, the vocals are as if listening to vinyl – but that clears up as the song continues on. If anything about this mod mood-setter is pretentious, it’s the fact that it goes on for so long without any addicting qualities.
“Anything New” moves you out of the 60s feel and back into the digital age. Tinkling bells in the background of sudden synthesized notes make it feel as if you’re playing Mario Bros and you’re wandering around inside the castle. I can practically see Toad jumping up and down. It’s got a very juvenile feel, but if anything, it certainly has that on-an-adventure quality to it, chugging along in its slap-happy minimalism and then dropping into a distorted funk.
So far the first track of the album that not only keeps me listening, but pulls me in to hear more, is the fourth track, “Wake Up!” Conjure images of rooftop parties somewhere very warm. It’s as if I came into the middle of the song, appropriate considering it’s one of the shorter tracks at 3:25. Certainly not a slow ballad, but certainly not a chaotic audio trip. It’s that “just right” feeling, deeper in essence, but carries you with it. Wilkinson sings like you’ve both known this song for a long time, and it just feels natural to listen to it again and again.
A surprise is in store a couple songs later, on “Take Off Your Shirt.” It’s a rock song, pure and simple. It has little drums and heavy guitars and nothing else to really sway you from thinking you’re listening more to some 90s alt band’s demo. Wilkinson sings clearly, very much like Anthony Kiedis. It’s welcomed despite feeling strangely out of place on the album…
Closing the album, “Saint Christopher” acts just as pearly as expected – not a single note of rebellion. The first few minutes are slow with gauzy, distant, steady beats of sound, drums keeping a fast tempo. After a moment of quiet, the gauze beat returns for the remaining ~4 minutes with its blips of higher-pitched notes among the rest of the chords. It’s a mild track for an exit. But then again, it’s not like anything before on Mind Bokeh was exactly mind-blowing either.