Bibio fi

[Mush; 2004]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: ambient folktronica
Others: Shugo Tokumaru, The Books, Colleen, Boards of Canada

Bibio is yet another budding electronic artist -- another English one, no less -- crafting "emotionally powerful" ambient tunes with an artfully blurry photo of some nature stuff (trees, blue-and-rose sky) as a cover. This is not to speak ill of fi, but simply to point out that this sort of thing has become an established Type. Stephen Wilkinson, the introspective Englishman in question, builds his pieces from samples of his own work, chiefly some lovely manipulated guitar work. After a few tracks that could probably be played with an electric/acoustic guitar run through a looping effects processor, Wilkinson provides some of that good ol' droney electronica we've come to love, or at least tolerate. "I'm Rewinding It" is just such a piece, and it's fine stuff, if you're in the mood. I find myself most fond of fi whilst listening to tracks like the song following, "Looking Through the Facets of a Plastic Jewel." There's something about unmitigated drone with low-frequency hiss, a couple of processed tones, and an answering machine beep here or there that feels -- admit it -- a little arbitrary, and not all that worthwhile. Bird sounds? A splash of water? Throw it in -- it's pastoral!

Cynicism aside, fi is a pretty little piece of music. Roughly half drone and half pleasant fingerpick-style guitar work (with some successful marriages, like "Puddled in the Morning" and "Lakeside"), fi isn't quite "unforgettable," as promised by its label; in fact, it's a little bit boring. Still, one has to give Bibio props for sampling only stuff he played himself, and his album is pleasant, relaxing music. I won't be rushing out to buy his next album, but I won't be throwing this one out any time soon, either.

1. Cherry Blossom Road
2. Bewley In White
3. Puffer
4. Cluster At Cwm Einion
5. London Planes
6. It Was Willow
7. I'm Rewinding It...
8. Looking Through The Facets Of A Plastic Jewel
9. Wet Flakey Bark
10. Bewley In Grey
11. Teleidophonic Torch
12. Puddled In The Morning
13. At The Chase
14. Cantaloup Carousel
15. Lakeside
16. Bewley In Red
17. Poplar Avenue