Like English compatriots Bonobo and Caribou, Bibio has developed his own electronica style that is at once warm, funky, and full of all things experimental. Following a few releases that embodied a folk/field recording blend, Stephen Wilkinson signed with Warp records, home of my favorite, Boards of Canada. The product of his evolution stands in stark contrast to his prior work: it is as if he has evolved into a whole new beast.
I had a chance to listen to his prior album, Vignetting the Compost, which was released earlier this year: while it was obvious that he took many pages from Boards of Canada, the end result was nothing to write home about. With Ambivalence Avenue, however, Bibio has achieved something solidly original: he brought the funk to Caribou, Board of Canada, and Bonobo -- definitely worth your checking out.
While these songs are a quantum leap for Bibio, they still reasonably project from the foundation he's laid. But there's no accounting for the remainder of the album, which finds him paddling the uncharted waters of hip-hop, techno, and points outlying. "Jealous of Roses" sets lustrous funk riffs dancing between the stereo channels as Bibio belts out a surprisingly effective Sly-Stone-in-falsetto impersonation. "Fire Ant" spikes the loping soul of J Dilla with the stroboscopic vocal morsels of the Field; "Sugarette" wheezes and fumes like a Flying Lotus contraption. The music feels both spontaneous and precise, winding in complex syncopation around the one-beat, with subtle filter and tempo tweaks, and careful juxtapositions of texture (see the arid, throttled voices scraping against the sopping-wet chimes of "S'vive"). Many songs taper off into ambient passages that have actual gravity, gluing the far-flung genres together. It's the kind of seamless variety, heady but visceral, that few electronic musicians who aren't Four Tet have achieved - Pitchfork