By David Colburn
What’s in a name? Not Bibio, not even Mind Bokeh. What’s in a label name? Warp Records has released albums by Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Flying Lotus, Gang Gang Dance, and Prefuse 73. In each instance, the label moniker appears to be quite fitting; each example has created music that is shamelessly odd, angular, hypnotic, warped. Bibio is no different; Mind Bokeh finds an all-encompassing description in the four-letter term.
As warped as an old slab of slowly whirring vinyl and as distorted as a dense sonic grove of forgotten AM frequencies, Mind Bokeh holds the listener in a state of interest from point “M” to point “H” and far beyond.
“Excuses” casually provides a brief sound-bite that foreshadows the entire outing: “A fragment of time… which is not recorded…there is a moment of darkness…”. Fragmented specks of darkness do indeed haunt the aura without an ounce of reluctance nor a shred of shame. Melodies can lure the listener like sweet siren songs; “Pretentious”, “Wake Up!” and especially “K is for Kelson” can be as pleasantly breezy as the most serene leagues of chillwave. Each neatly trimmed musical edge quickly becomes bent under the mounting sonic pressure, and the listener may always look behind his or her shoulder.
Mind Bokeh leaves a unique, or, at the very least, interesting, sensation; every track sounds like a disorienting and almost violent interpretation of classic pop music courtesy of a composer based in the distant future. With only shredded, half-melted remains of top 40 classics, hefty boom-boxes, and cheap songbooks, one composer faced the challenge of reconstructing pop culture musical documents of the latter twentieth century for preservation’s sake. Mind Bokeh is the anthropological exhibit.
As warped as any Warp release, Bibio’s latest album remains consistent from its command of an introduction to its slow foray into familiarity. “Wake Up!” begs the listener to wake up, fittingly enough, “to the light that’s always there”, while the choppy dance-like rhythm of “Anything New” aligns with the retro funk bliss of “Light Seep” and hard-rock shuffle of “Take Off Your Shirt” to keep that light gleaming through the haze.
What’s in a name? Sometimes, everything the listener needs to know can be found in a four-letter term.