Bibio – Ribbons

Released in 2019 on Warp Records

Format: LPx2


Bibio may have just crafted the perfect springtime album. Inspired by nature and human escapism, Ribbons feels like daydreaming in a lush garden or out in the woods. Even the song titles evoke pleasant smells (“Patchouli May”, “Frankincense and Coals”). There are so many sides to Bibio that it’s hard to guess what we’re gonna get with each album; Phantom Brickworks was completely ambient, while the LP before that was upbeat funk-pop, straddling the line between charming and saccharine. Perhaps Ribbons is an evolution of his more eclectic releases, Silver Wilkinson (my personal fave) and fan-favorite Ambivalence Avenue. While the stylistic eclecticism on Ambivalence Avenue was somewhat jarring, the genre-hopping here feels a little more organic and cohesive. The four tracks on the A-side are great indicators of the rest of the album, starting with a pastoral, mid-fi jazzy guitar instrumental, of which there are a few scattered strategically throughout this album. “The Art of Living” and the first single “Curls” are serene folk-pop with Whitman-esque lyrics and lush instrumentation, archetypal of the style being explored on most of the tracks. Track 3, “Before”, has a funky Dilla-inspired MPC groove and is one of the welcome few beat-oriented tracks. Like usual, Bibio plays an impressive amount of instruments throughout: an array of acoustic, electric, archtop, nylon, and baritone guitars, Minimoog, mellotron, Wurlitzer, mandolin, clavinet, clarinet, saxophone, bass, a Portuguese guitar-related instrument called the cavaquinho, violin, drums, “knuckles on the door”, an Akai MPC sampler, and plenty of field recordings of chirping birds and running streams. Only 3 songs feature guests, with Thomas Dwyer laying down beautiful violin as well as some mandolin and banjo, and some looped vocals from Lillian Hill on “Pretty Ribbons”. Overall this album is a reminder of the joy, peace, and wisdom we can find in the smallest details of the natural world, from the cherry trees outside to the “countless ants in holes” to the “flies that catch the sunlight and return you to all that’s there.”

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