. issue XII : v .

by barathron

. artist : bibio .
. album : ambivalence avenue .
. year : 2009 .
. label : warp .
. grade : a .


Some people can’t pick just one way to express themselves. From noir-hop, to traditional mountain music, to lo-fi soul: Bibio does it all. Ambivalence Avenue is obviously made by an aspiring producer with great nocturnal taste and an ear for simple, affecting melody.

Wunderkind Stephen Wilkinson has lectured on music technology, and it shows. All of his songs have a glow to them that is rare in music these days. There is an evocative, space-age undercurrent to already complicated tracks like the well-composed post-rock of “Cry! Baby!” Songs like “Baby” and “Sugarette” would have you believe he was a member of Tortoise and got into hip hop futurism, but he’s pretty far from Chicago: the West Midlands in the UK. The endlessly filled-in beats and dimmer switch atmospherics of many of these songs evoke quite a beautifully dreary image, but a bright future for the project.

Bibio could easily hold the listener’s interest with just his instrumentals, but he also grabs you with his accomplished, wispy vocals that grace a good half of the tracks. While many mid-album tracks are sparse acousticisms with CSNY harmonies, he pushes himself to explore all of his musical interests: dusty drums, deep bass, and minor-key funk guitar cover the ecstatic loverman come-on of “Jealous of Roses.” “Roses” is pure bedroom-disco bliss on the heels of the carefree title track’s otherworldly forest jam, uplifting choruses, and lively drum patterns.

Stephen Wilkinson likes quite a few disparate genres and has the ability to compartmentalize and convincingly present all of them. He shies away from the usual electronic artist pitfalls and navigates his way to extremely nerdy paydirt by attempting to chase his muse across several and less popular genres. His songs may appear as tributes to some, but those spectators aren’t looking deep enough. And regardless of your hangups, Bibio’s modern touch — as an expert craftsman, accomplished guitar player, and thoughtful composer — will draw you in.

by Ryan Myers