'Sleep On The Wing': Bibio gives the world a moment to breathe with latest folktronica record
Bibio takes his unique brand of folktronica to a whole new level with his latest record, 'Sleep On The Wing ', which is out on June 12 via Warp Records.
The project of Stephen Wilkinson, Bibio has been honing his experimental blend of folk and electronica for 15 years now. Hailing from England, Bibio began experimenting with the 'sonic arts' during his time at Middlesex University in London, slowly developing a sound that fused elements of contemporary experimental music and field recordings. His music eventually warped into something else entirely with the addition of electronically modified guitars and droning synthesizers, in addition to his lyrics being influenced by foreign languages and phonemes. Layers in his musical influences range from Boards of Canada, Daft Punk, Madlib, J Dilla and Elizabeth Fraser to The Incredible String Band, Nick Drake, Tortoise and João Gilberto, and you get the wonderfully distinct sound that is Bibio.
As the follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2019 album 'Ribbons', 'Sleep On The Wing' sees Bibio draw on a familiar range of influences from traditional folk, peaceful atmospheric soundscapes and field recordings from the natural world, once again demonstrating the breadth of his musicality. He also embraces a wide range of self-played instruments, including the strings which gave 'Ribbons' much of its flavor, and new accouplements for good measure. 'Ribbons' revealed the artist's mastery over his own sound, being an immersive record that was both grand and carefree at the same time. 'Sleep On The Wing' reaffirms this, while also demonstrating Bibio's unique ability to transcend the boundaries of contemporary electronica and create something that is so much more.
Speaking about his approach to music, Wilkinson stated in an interview with Clash Music, "Electronic music doesn't have to be so grid-like; it can be elasticated, more human." With each release, he manages to blur the lines between electronic and human, and on 'Sleep On The Wing', he makes this dichotomy seamless, such that it feels otherworldly and familiar all at once.
On the title track, a gentle melodic theme is bowed and plucked, capturing the carefree energy and rolling countryside views detailed in the lyrics. Bibio sings of hope in the face of something painful or tragic, his words carried by the softly bittersweet harmonies. The track’s title and lyrics, inspired by the ability to sleep during flight, have been brought to life in a beautiful video animated by Sonnye Lim. The video presents a swift flying from dark city to rural landscapes as spring turns to summer.
Speaking more in-depth about the track, Bibio says: "Lyrically, I feel that the song has two aspects to it: The idea of being in the wake of a loss, and with hope, continuing the life of someone who has passed, through allowing oneself to be inspired by what they did during their lifetime and what they left behind, whether it’s the things they said, the knowledge they shared or the things they made. The other aspect to the song is perhaps more direct, and talks of escaping the city to find peace in the countryside, but the title is more a celebration of dreaming and the liberating power of imagination, not necessarily a physical escape. Music has the power to inspire dreaming and fuel the imagination, and that’s what I’ve always found so addictive about music."
Animator Lim adds: "I wanted to capture the feeling of a temporary escape from the bustling city. The swift provides a glimpse of a serene, and carefree world."
Pieced together over the course of last year, with a few exceptions stretching back into Bibio's older repertoire, 'Sleep On The Wing' is a largely instrumental collection that exhibits deep atmospheric melodies recorded in Bibio's home studio in the UK midlands countryside. As on 'Ribbons', the surrounding nature seeps into the studio and underlies the essence of the music as it unfurls.
As the album progresses, with gentle, largely instrumental tracks taking over, you can't help but feel yourself let go. The bustle of your world fades away, and the sounds of nature and gentle midland folk music guide you away from your troubles. But oddly, it isn't an escape. Instead, with each song, you find your world and the one Bibio is creating for you blend into one another, almost as if the peace from within his music is finding its way into your space, helping you find calmness within your own chaos. And where some songs like 'A Couple Swim' are almost magical and ethereal, others, such as 'The Milkyway Over Ratlinghope' are deeply emotional and moving, with no words necessary as they articulate the feelings we're all trying to get out. In a world filled with pain and isolation as well as the push for change and yearning for better tomorrows, Bibio's 'Sleep On The Wing' is a reprieve, one that appreciates the quiet, mundane moments that punctuate daily life.
Pre-order 'Sleep On The Wing' HERE. Follow Bibio on Facebook, Twitter, or via Bibio.co and Warp.net.