Stephen Wilkinson appears to be mirroring western trends by going organic. On his seventh LP under the Bibio guise, the English producer’s experimental leanings take on a distinctly naturalistic focus; veering away from the kaleidoscopic blur of 2011’s Mind Bokeh to create slow-burning sonic collection.
In keeping with his previous outings, Wilkinson’s textural approach work remains impressive. Many of these multi-layered compositions unpeel in the ear canals, levering illuminating synth lines against brushing percussion and nimble guitar.
Despite – or perhaps because of - the technical showmanship, Silver Wilkinson never really gets going.
Dreary acoustic lullaby “Raincaot” epitomises this curious lack of life, ambling out as a forgettable Seventies hippy dip that wallows in lackadaisical acoustics. “Sycamore Silhouetting” and album finale “You Won’t Remember…” are equally short on substance, sunk by torpid guitar strums that conjure a sloth-like acoustic haze.
Yet with added purpose, it can be a spellbinding trip. “À tout à l'heure” is an elegant rhythmic swing led by tribal percussion and breezy vocal whirls; “Look at Orion!” oscillates with jerking house minimalism; and the cut ‘n’ paste thrum of “You” puffs up like The Avalanches at their hookiest.
These sprightly nods are, however, mere blips on a record that struggles to reach beyond its comfort zone. Going organic may have its advantages, but for Stephen Wilkinson it’s a move that doesn’t come naturally.
First published in the June/July edition of Under the Radar magazine