The sounds created by Stephen Wilkinson, aka Bibio, have been rapidly evolving since his 2005 debut album, Fi. His latest project, Mind Bokeh, will be his second release on Warp. Reflecting much of Bibio’s previous work, Mind Bokeh combines electronics and recorded samples with live sound. This time around, Bibio has emphasized a crunch in his beats over ethereal electronics, showering the album’s 12 folktronica tracks in diverse layers of synthetic noise.
Mind Bokeh opens with “Excuses,” a track with a distant and eerie introduction, odd samples, reverberant textures, heavy synthesizers and heavily affected vocals. This experimental side of Bibio’s productions is found in many tracks on the album, another being “Pretentious.” It opens with a semi-tonal string sample that initially seems off-putting but is eventually cradled by creepily slow drum-and-bass that a gives a consonant feel. Mind Bokeh also offers a simpler, less serious side on songs like “Anything New” and “K Is For Kelson” in which the samples used serve a more melodic purpose rather than textural. The album tries and succeeds in uniting these two polar ends of Bibio’s music.
The remarkable thing about Bibio’s work that this album perfectly exemplifies is his ability to cross boundaries. He creates songs that borrow from dub-step, drum-and-bass music, indie rock and pop, and ties each element together in a way that feels organic. It is music for music’s sake that is not a part of any one scene or genre and that utilizes a vast array of modern technology and influence. Mind Bokeh signifies a union between sonic exploration—typically condemned to musical isolation by being defined as “experimental”—and the consonances of modern pop music that are readily accepted by mass listeners.
It should come with little surprise that Mind Bokeh is highly influenced by the concept of de-focusing one’s mind. Bibio’s atmospheric style provides the perfect setting for such meditation as it constantly shifts between the musical forms we have come to expect and the textural soundscapes that allow us to escape such redundant musical normality.