Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bibio | Mind Bokeh

Let me start off by saying that Bibio's Ambivalence Avenue is by far one of my favorite albums to come out in 2009.  It is one that that will never get old in that I'll always come back to it.  And while I usually tend to gravitate more towards concise and cohesive albums, what I like about Ambivalence Avenue is its diversity.   Each track is different from the next drawing on different styles ranging from UK folk to off-kilter electronica a la Flying Lotus to smooth Dilla-esque hip hop to African infused 60s psychedelic.  And the tracks are consistently good. So needless to say,  I was very much anticipating Mind Bokeh with exceedingly high and probably unfair expectations.

Mind Bokeh follows the same sonic trajectory as its predecessor, moving away from the folky warbly tape sound that defines his ealier albums and even more into the realm of electronica.  Again, it's more of a mixtape or collection of songs, than say an "album" with an overarching theme that ties  tracks together.  However, unfortunately, I feel this time around Bibio misses more than he hits.

The misses includes songs like Take Off Your Shirt and Light Sleep, the former being an out-of-place staked-guitar rocker that resemebles something by Phoenix, and the latter being a blatant regurgitation of Jealous of Roses (from Ambilanence Avenue).  The track More Excuses falls short with it's unattractive repetitive vocal melody and striking similarity to All the Flowers (again from Ambivalence Avenue).  In Radiohead terms, it like what Amnesiac's Morning Bell is to Kid A's Morning Bell.

However Bibio makes up for these shortcomings with some quality tracks.  The instant mood-changer Anything New features a sliced up sample over top arpeggiated keys and an infectious beat.   Bibio proves that he is a well versed multi-instrumentalist on the bouncy and summery K is for Kelson. Finally, on Pretentious, Bibio daringly infuses a microtonal ostinato with 70s funk which makes for a peculair yet interesting mix that works out in the end.

Overall, Bibio is still a solid producer.  He excels at crafting unique soundscapes and textures, while taking retro sounds that conjure nostalgia and mixing them with modern electronica, giving old sounds new life.  Mind Bokeh is not a bad album, by any means.  While it doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, you would be doing yourself a considerable disservice by passing on it.

Check out my current favorite below:

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