Bibio - Silver Wilkinson

A blissful piece of escapism.

Rating:

Bibio’s Stephen Wilkinson has long been a producer to eschewed the mundane and conventional. For him, electronic music offers him infinite possibilities to indulge in his myriad flights of musical fancy. ‘Silver Wilkinson’ is Bibio’s seventh studio album and it carries on the themes of oblique and idiosyncratic sounds combined with an almost restless nature. However, there is something more natural about it, as the producer adorns his electronic sounds with organic instrumentation, found sounds and sampled field recordings that combine to make this album some of his most beautiful work.

Maybe the album’s prosaic title is a response to the music that sees Bibio distil his charmingly idiosyncratic approach to its purest form. Opener ‘The First Daffodils’ is a perfect introduction, plaintive, pastoral and quite lovely; its intricate finger-picked guitar and general air of bucolic bliss is redolent of this album’s charms.

‘Silver Wilkinson’ seems to be the product of changing environments and nature. It doesn’t sound like it has been painstakingly crafted in the studio. Instead, the humming of birdsong and other natural sounds give it an evocative feeling; you’re almost transported to Bibio’s garden as he casually and effortlessly coaxes out work in the countryside. Because of this approach, a number of songs here are filled with uplifting and beatific melodies. ‘À tout à l’heure’ is a blissful piece of escapism that represents the changing of the seasons from winter’s torpor to spring’s warm glow.

There is real depth and feeling in Bibio’s gentle guitar playing aligned to his soft voice, and on ‘Sycamore Silhouetting’ it’s impossibly moving. In moments like this he moves far beyond being a mere electronic producer. Of course, there is still lots of scope for experimenting here. At times it works very well as on the sonic time capsule of ’Look At Orion!’, resembling a long lost piece from the BBC’s Radiophonic workshop given a new undulating beat. At others though, as on the anomalous ’Business Park’, the sound veers off on an odd and unsatisfying tangent. This track is more distant with sci-fi like synths and a gradual build of tempo that fails to connect in the same way as the more emotive and organic pieces.

‘Silver Wilkinson’ is an album that combines all the facets of Bibio’s character that have made him such an interesting and, at times, frustrating musician. It’s the sound of a producer escaping the constraints of the studio to his own distinct land of natural wonderment.
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