Switched On – Bibio: BIB10 (Warp Records)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

As its title confirms, this is the tenth studio album that Bibioaka Stephen Wilkinson – has completed. Much of that odyssey has been for Warp Records, where he has garnered a loyal following from albums such as Ambivalence Avenue, Mind Bokeh, Silver Wilkinson and the attractive Sleep On The Wing EP from 2020.

For BIB10, however, Wilkinson wanted to use more synths, drum machines and electric guitars, but in his words, ‘getting a more polished sound, without ironing the humanity out of it, was part of the ethos’.

What’s the music like?

Anyone following Bibio over those ten albums will know that he has a high quality threshold, and that his songs are consistently good and meaningful. His work also evades capture where genres are concerned, flitting between electronica, pop, folk and a lightly psychedelic approach.

BIB10 feels firmly rooted in the 1980s at times with its electro-funk work, but on other occasions when the guitar comes out it even passes close to the orbit of Steely Dan. The music has a typically airy disposition and an attractive lightness, while Bibio’s vocals are as always very nicely done.

Two tracks feature the resonant tones of Olivier St Louis – the breezy S.O.L. and the album closer Fools, which dips into RnB. Elsewhere, Off Goes The Light is an attractively light hearted song in a big space, Sharratt is a nicely designed web of guitar melodies, while the languid Rain And Shine has slight Eastern leanings.

Cinnamon Cinematic is a perky number where those Steely Dan references crop up, its closing guitar solo a good bit of fun. Meanwhile there are more pastoral overtones in the thoughtful tones of A Sanctimonious Song, with its woozy effects.

Does it all work?

It does. One of the funkiest of Bibio’s albums, it also contains some of his most satisfying, club-based songs. The drums machines work a treat, ensuring a bit of time travel for listeners as they go back three decades.

Is it recommended?

Heartily. Bibio remains one of our underrated musical wonders, and Warp really do have a treasure on their hands. More people should appreciate his music, and the way it sweeps our cares away!

Listen

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