Bibio: Mind Bokeh Review
“Bokeh” is a photographic term for the aesthetic quality of the blurring you see in the background of a focused object – the way unfocused points of light in a photos background often seem to be made up of tiny polygons. It’s seems fitting that British musician Bibio used the title “Mind Bokeh” for his latest release – the electronic artist creates complex arrangements that are so swaddled in reverb and effects that they often come across as a blur. And as in bokeh with Bibio’s music often what’s in focus (namely the artist’s singing) isn’t quite as interesting as the mottled cloud of his instrumentations, which are often pieced together with antiquated and lo-fi equipment.
Still, when you hear the term “mind bokeh” you expect something a bit out there – a boundary pushing brain-warp. And Bibio’s most recent non-remix LP Ambivalence Avenue seemed to mark just such a turn towards broader experimentation. Unfortunately though, most of Mind Bokeh seems designed for the comedown after the mindfuck – not as part of it. With a few exceptions Bokeh floats along in a sea of forgettable Balearic and Tropicalia influenced chillwave, buoyed by Bibio’s unremarkable vocals. Only a handful of tracks really stick out. For instance album opener “Excuses,” which oozes across in digital drips, the layered, reedy weirdness of “Wake Up!” as well as swaying sax and synth slow jam “Feminine Eyes.”
Mind Bokeh otherwise seems fairly formulaic – not terrible but also not really interesting enough to stand out in a sea of similarly minded chillout electronic music. I will readily admit that Bibio is an exceptional artist – Ambivalence Avenue has moments that prove that. Mind Bokeh, however, seems to just fall short of that ability.
— Jon Behm
Mind Bokeh will be out on Warp on 3/29