Bibio, Ambivalence Avenue (Warp)

Bibio's Ambivalence Avenue is scatterbrained but usually charming, and it differs considerably from his months-old Mush Records releases.
Author:
Publish date:

Changing his game
Although UK electronic/experimental artist Bibio issued no fewer than three substantial recordings in 2009, it's unlikely that not even his loved ones were prepared to hear beats on his Warp debut. Born Stephen Wilkinson, Bibio writes tranquil, murky folk music that integrates as much tape-reel manipulation as it does feathery light guitar picking. Ambivalence Avenue is scatterbrained but usually charming, and it differs considerably from his months-old Mush Records releases—while "Abrasion" is rich with the carefree '60s sound he'd captured for this year's Vignetting the Compost or even 2006's Hand Cranked, "Fire Ant" is full-on One Word Extinguisher-type hip-hop, a glitchy, sample-heavy banger with far-left-field origins.
The jittery framework of "Fire Ant" on Ambivalence Avenue would strike most as improbable if there weren't such diverse influences at work here. Wilkinson's fondness for psychedelia and perpetual nods toward friends Boards of Canada ring true in his application of analog equipment, but he'll probably garner some comparisons to California producers Nobody or Madlib, too. At the very least, the sparkling, freaked-out beat-driven numbers such as "Cry! Baby!" or "S'vive" will have Wilkinson's West Coast musical brethren big-upping Ambivalence Avenue and then promptly loading it into their samplers. [3.5 out of 5 stars]