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A producer/instrumentalist with an adventurous, atmospheric style, Bibio's Stephen Wilkinson blends electronic, folk, hip-hop, and rock into vivid musical collages. On early albums such as 2006's Hand Cranked, his evocatively lo-fi mix of acoustic guitars, analog synths, and field recordings called to mind half-remembered times spent in the great outdoors. Gradually, Bibio's music became more structured and diverse, with albums like 2009's breakthrough Ambivalence Avenue reflecting influences as varied as J Dilla, Marcos Valle, and theme songs from '70s TV shows. Wilkinson continued to explore different sides of his music with accomplished results on 2017's ambient excursion Phantom Brickworks and 2022's guitar-centered Bib10. Born and raised in England's West Midlands, Wilkinson listened to the likes of Queen and Pink Floyd while in the car with his dad, then attempted to re-create what he'd heard at home on his Bontempi organ. A few years later, he fell in love with the rebellious sounds of Guns N' Roses and Iron Maiden, and eventually discovered electronic music when he got into skateboarding as a teen in the mid-'90s. Wilkinson studied sonic arts at London's Middlesex University and was first inspired by electronic acts such as Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Boards of Canada, but he became equally intrigued by mid-20th century British folk. He combined these styles in his own music, along with found sounds and field recordings, for a distinctive mix of organic and synthetic atmospheres. Boards of Canada's Marcus Eoin handed Wilkinson's demos to Mush Records, which released Bibio's 2004 debut album, Fi, and its more structured follow-up, Hand Cranked, in 2006. Wilkinson also released the limited-edition Sheila Sets Sail/Tribio on the Artist's Valley imprint, part of a collective Wilkinson has with producers Andy Harber and Richard Roberts. The Ovals and Emeralds EP, which featured organ instead of Bibio's usual acoustic guitars, arrived in 2008; Vignetting the Compost followed in 2009. Later in 2009, Bibio moved to Warp for that June's eclectic Ambivalence Avenue, which melded his ambient pop with meticulously sampled electro/hip-hop elements and cracked the top 20 of the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart in the U.S. In November, the remix-heavy album The Apple and the Tooth appeared. For 2011's Mind Bokeh -- named after the term for the blurry area in a photograph -- Wilkinson went deeper into the direction he began on Ambivalence Avenue. The album reached number six on the Heatseekers Albums chart in the U.S. and 195 on the U.K. Albums Chart, while the single "Lover's Carvings" hit 170 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Bibio's next album, May 2013's Silver Wilkinson, balanced the pastoral leanings of his earlier work with a more experimental electronic bent. Like Ambivalence Avenue, it placed within the top 20 of the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart in the U.S. The Green EP, which featured Silver Wilkinson's "Dye the Water Green" along with several older, previously unreleased tracks, arrived in early 2014. That year, Bibio's original score for the Jason Reitman film Men, Women & Children was also released. On April 2016's A Mineral Love, Wilkinson expanded on his flair for nostalgia, taking inspiration from sources as diverse as TV show themes from the '70s and '80s, and '90s dance music. Though the album's sounds seemed sampled, A Mineral Love consisted of entirely new recordings by Wilkinson and collaborators including Gotye and Wax Stag. The album peaked at number nine on the U.S. Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Wilkinson expanded one of the album's tracks, "Why So Serious?," into the Serious EP, adding more collaborations with vocalist Olivier St. Louis. Also in 2016, Bibio worked with Mark Pritchard and Clark on the single "Health Town." The following year's Beyond Serious EP reunited Bibio and St. Louis on tracks inspired by mid- to late-'90s French house music. For 2017's full-length Phantom Brickworks, Wilkinson went in a very different direction, compiling a decade's worth of improvised ambient pieces that used atmosphere and texture to evoke real and imaginary places. The album also spawned 2018's EP Phantom Brickworks (IV & V). In April 2019, Wilkinson celebrated Bibio's tenth year on Warp with his ninth full-length, Ribbons. His most acoustic-based music in some time, the album featured his mandolin and fiddle playing along with elements of vintage psychedelia and soul. The following June, he issued the companion release Sleep on the Wing, a largely instrumental set that expanded on Ribbons' pastoral beauty. In 2020, Warp acquired the rights to Bibio's Mush releases and reissued them over the next two years; the digital reissue of Hand Cranked was accompanied by bonus tracks that included some of Wilkinson's earliest recordings. Bibio resurfaced in July 2021 with the Vidiconia EP, a set of improvised ambient pieces reminiscent of Phantom Brickworks. Wilkinson changed gears once again for October 2022's Bib10. The producer's celebratory tenth album harked back to the polished warmth of '60, '70s, and '80s productions and used vintage guitars as the foundations of its tracks
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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