Bibio is merely a man that loves to create for the sake of creating. His identity and his sound can be heard in whatever genre he decides to touch upon in his productions – all in a sincere and honest way. Let Mr. Bibio lead you down story lane as he speaks in great detail about his Top 5 favorite releases of 2011.
Bibio’s Top 5 Releases of 2011 (in no particular order):
Rustie – Glass Swords
Favorite Track from off the release: Rustie – Surph
I got a promo CD copy of this when I was down in London, I was at the Warp office where I was paying Steve Beckett & co a visit, and as I was leaving I grabbed a few goodies. Luckily I had my macbook with me so I could listen to it on the train home to Wolverhampton. Before heading off to the tube station, I joined a few of the lovely Warp folks for a pint and a pork pie in the ale house around the corner from the Warp office. Then, I headed to Euston, got my train, I got a seat (with a table), laptop out, got me a baguette and a bottle of water and put on my headphones. To cut to the chase, I was amazed by this album on first listen. It’s just so energetic, there are no dull moments. Rustie has really shone as a musician/producer/composer on this album, all the tracks are really well structured and have really hooky melodies and themes, it doesn’t feel stuck in a genre either, it feels like it gathers the best from various genres and makes something far more musical and colourful than anything else out there that he is often compared to. I think this album is a future classic, and a reassuring reminder that Warp is moving forward yet keeping its ear for magic. Rustie deserves far more attention, especially after putting out this gem. Some reviewers seem to mention the computer game theme a lot, but I don’t get that as much… what I get is fantasy landscapes with portals and weird surreal crystal sculptures and alien plants, kind of like something from the original ‘He-Man’ series, ‘Le Planete Sauvage’ or Norman McLaren’s ‘A Phantasy’, but with an occasional 90s nostalgia and a 21st century shiny digital edge… and so the faux-airbrushed album art is a perfect presentation of this album.
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath 1972
Favorite Track off the release: Tim Hecker – In The Fog II
My good friend and label mate Chris Clark kindly bought me this album on CD and sent it to me from Berlin. Chris must have known that we are all bombarded on a daily basis with emails containing youtube links, mp3 attachments, yousendit downloads etc. and that there’s a tendency to listen to something someone sends you on shitty laptop speakers and then put it in your messy music folder/cemetery only to be forgotten about for months, maybe years. So it seemed a more than sincere and determined recommendation to buy this album on CD for me, as he knew I’d more likely to listen to it that way. Vinyl would be the most sure way of getting something heard, but CD is a good 2nd place. And so I did listen to it, and I got what the fuss was about. This album is deep, emotional, cinematic, visual and subtle. There is so much ambient/beatless music out there, which I’m a fan of and a maker of, but a lot of what I hear out there is quite generic. This album however is kind of like some ultra well crafted and experienced example of ‘ambient’ music. It’s not really that ambient either, it’s quite abrasive at times. But the layering and the musicality is of a much higher standard than most music that would fall into this genre. I was lying in the bath the other day listening to this album, feeling rather ill and sorry for myself (it is winter after all), and this album was breathing life back into me, making my mind run with images and thoughts, making me want to jump out of the bath and start creating. A very inspiring collection of tracks, one I would happily make the sole soundtrack to a lonely walk in the fog, although it actually conjures up images of ancient abandoned cities or buildings overgrown with jungle or forest – not sure why, I guess it has a post apocalyptic quality but with with a warm, soulful, living quality – not sterile and bleak. I’m now a Tim Hecker fan, thanks to Chris. No doubt I’ll have to buy this on vinyl too, as well as all of his other albums.
Letherette – EP2
Favorite Track from the release: Letherette – No Point
Letherette are good friends of mine, and so it might seem like an obvious entry into my top 5, but the truth is, they make really good music! My first year of touring after I joined Warp consisted of DJ sets around europe and a few in South America. I played Letherette at every show, not just one track but quite a few. It always seemed to go down well and it made me think – why aren’t these guys up on this stage doing this? Why aren’t they signed? Well since then they have put out two EPs on Hotep Records, and despite their minimal output and slightly elusive nature, they have quite a following already. This was made apparent when I saw them play at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. They were easily the most popular act of that night and the dance floor was chokka. Not only that, but their production is to such a high standard that it made The Old Blue Last’s shitty PA actually sound good. Letherette have some fairly obvious influences, like 90s french house and the great Dilla… but they also have a strong identity of their own, which I think is already getting mimicked to some degree. EP2 is more fruity goodness from them, sexy & juicy cut up samples, thick slamming beats and it sounds as good on headphones as it does in a club. You can dance to it, you can make love to it, you can cook spag bol to it.
Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma
Favorite Track off the release: Chris Watson – El Divisadero
I’ve been a sound head all my life. I’ve always been a music lover too, but I think my love for natural sound predates my love for ‘music’, although deep down I don’t differentiate between the two. As a little kid one of my favourite things was to lie in bed listening to the sound of wind and rain on my window, it filled me with a warm primeval glow, and it still does today – which is why I love camping in Wales so much, because it always pisses it down there. Even when I was a kid and all I had was a cheap ghetto blaster and an Argos karaoke mic, I used to try and record the weather by dangling said mic out of my bedroom window. This behaviour has not stopped, except now I have better equipment… although I still often like to use cassette for its special charm. Most of my university days and nights were spent gathering sounds on mini disc, and so when I discovered Chris Watson, he kind of became a role model of what a sound recordist should be. The thing with Chris Watson is that he is a true artist. He is not just a techie guy who works behind the scenes, he speaks romantically about the things he records and it shows in his art. He has a level of dedication and passion that makes him stand out in his field. He also has years of experience and has travelled far and to exotic locations for the main purpose of gathering sound. He does this with such skill and style that all his recordings have this kind of cinematic widescreen feel. I don’t know how he does it. I recently bought this album after I couldn’t sleep one night, so I went on iTunes on my iPhone to look for some suitable headphone listening. I was very pleased to see a new album from Chris Watson, as I had no idea he had released one recently. I went to bed, put on my Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones and got absorbed into this album like I was watching a film. What I didn’t expect to hear was processed recordings, edits, filtering… this took me by surprise, but in a good way! It was most surreal, at one point I wasn’t sure if I was drifting off to sleep and if I was dreaming, and if it was my mind making these recordings in my headphones sound like rhythmic music, so I skipped back the track and listened again, and it turned out I wasn’t dreaming, but I still felt like I was. Not only does this album feel like an epic journey, it has moments of abstraction, almost as if you are watching a documentary that has strange animated interludes, but all seamlessly and beautifully put together. I’ve been a lover of nature & wildlife and nature & wildlife documentaries all of my life, and Chris Watson has produced some of the finest recordings of nature and has contributed sound to some of the finest nature documentaries (with non other than the living legend that is David Attenborough), yet in some ways, this album of exploring the sound environments of a train journey in Mexico may be one of his best works yet.
Hudson Mohawke – Satin Panthers
Favorite Track off the release: Hudson Mohawke – All Your Love
I remember when I first found out the title of the then forthcoming Hudson Mohawke EP and it put a smile on my face. It’s just so Hudson Mohawke. I was lucky to do a mini tour with Hud Mo back in 2009, and a lovely chap he is too. He has a quirky sense of humour, and this often comes through in his music, yet his music is very ‘musical’, sincere, imaginative and er… original. His album ‘Butter’ blew me away, and having heard him play many of those tracks at various venues in France, Belgium and Ireland, that album kind of became the soundtrack of that tour. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, I became aware of his music’s ability to absorb memory and spit it back out again when I listened to his album after getting home, and to this day it still brings back memories of that tour and some of the bizarre situations you find yourself in when touring. I’m always impressed with music that can do that, it kind of proves something to me, although I don’t really know what that is. Satin Panthers is kind of a tease in some ways, because it’s not an album, and it’s not quite as full on or diverse as Butter, as if he’s holding back something greater for the next LP. But Satin Panthers is great nonetheless. It has his signature humour and musicality, not just in the title, but in tracks like Cbat, which is one of those tracks that when you hear you know only one man can make. The highlight for me is ‘All Your Love’, which has this great polyrhythmic pulse, almost African in its swing, but totally synthetic and fuzzy. It is also quite nostalgic for me, but I get nostalgic of the 90s with it, which is not really a childhood era for me, so it’s a totally different kind of nostalgia to the kind I get from, say, Boards of Canada. It’s pure summer too. Makes me wanna listen to it on cassette from a white soft top Ford Escort XR3i wearing round-lensed flip front shades, cruising the streets of Willenhall… well, maybe not the last bit… or any bit for that matter… ignore that analogy. The funny thing is that it doesn’t sound 90s, it just paints those images in my mind, for some reason. My mate described the drum fills in ‘All Your Love’ as sounding ‘Baywatch’, which I thought was spot on, haha. Hudson Mohawke makes you realise that certain things are fresh, which you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed or thought, and that to me is at least one sign of an inventive and forward thinking artist.