Available on: Mind Bokeh, Warp LP

Stephen Wilkinson’s no stranger to having his music pigeonholed. His 2009 album as Bibio, Ambivalence Avenue was immediately stamped with the ‘folktronica’ tag, a categorisation that he now seems keen to distance himself from. With ‘Excuses’, the first release from forthcoming album Mind Bokeh, we instead find the West Midlands producer looking across the Atlantic to draw inspiration from the sepia-toned harmonies of chillwave and the cerebral hip hop of LA’s Brainfeeder clan.

One of Bibio’s greatest assets has always been his effortlessly emotive singing voice, and here he confidently positions it in the foreground, albeit in a forlorn and distorted form. Tantalising glimpses of a proper melody peak through cracks in the playschool percussion and fractured synth lines, an impression perfectly captured by Michael Robinson’s hypnotic video which consists of a flurry of fragmented kaleidoscopic images.

For the second half of the track Wilkinson takes the gloves off and boxes your ears with an unexpected, but a deliciously dirty, glitch bass riff reminiscent of label mates Hudson Mohawke and Rustie. The producer has promised that the new album will comprise of “a balance of the familiar and the non-familiar” and this equation is literally displayed in the binary song structure of ‘Excuses’, a track that should appease current fans while garnering a few new converts to the cause, and bodes well for the album’s release on Warp later this month.

James Waldron

3.5
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