Over the past 25 years, Warp Records has successfully managed to become one of the U.K’s (If not one of the world’s) most intriguing record labels. Dominating the early 90s underground electronicIDM scene with genre defining artists such as Aphex Twin, Autechre and LFO, it’s hard not to see why the label has become revered by critics and fans alike.
These sounds of the electronicmusic underground of the 90s became synonymous to Warp, and since the turn of the millennium the label is still seeking innovation with the signing of countless genre defining artists. The 2000s was certainly an interesting time for the label, where the signing of Grizzly Bear, Battles and of course Bibio, completely altered the genre of music this label was always associated. It’s amazing to see how this label has evolved over the past 25 years, and is one of the few truly major independent British record labels left to still garner such strong critical acclaim with its impressive roster of artists.
Bibio is certainly an interesting subject of the Warp roster, combining hazy reverb drowned guitar lines with which only can be described as nostalgic production. It is this which certainly makes the artist stand out from others with similar production values who seem to be obsessed with excessive and sometimes unnecessary reverb. Nostalgic might be an odd way to describe it, but that really is such an accurate description to what Bibio’s previous albums and his latest here, ‘A Mineral Love’ seem to showcase. The atmosphere on each of this album’s 13 tracks are begging to remind you of better and easier times – a first kiss or a perfect endless summer you had at the peak of adolescence – cliches maybe, but nevertheless…
‘Town and Country’ is a prime example of this nostalgia. Featuring a remarkably catchy melody accompanied by a guitar solo climax, and lyrics detailing the craving for an easier life in the country due to a demanding work load, solidifies this theme of the yearning for a different point in time. These swooning guitar melodies continue to be heard on tracks such as ‘Petals’ and ‘Saint Thomas.’ ‘Saint Thomas’ especially, is an excellent demonstration of Bibio’s ability as a guitarist, purely being an instrumental. Dynamics are key to its success here, the contrast between its opening couple of minutes to the remaining few are incredibly apparent. It works incredibly well and is certainly one of the unique stand outs.
‘A Mineral Love’ also contains a fair number of featuring artists in comparison to previous work. Gotye, Wax Stag and Oliver St. Lewis bring an interesting twist to each of these tracks lending their unique vocal talents to Bibio’s luscious melodies. A strong emphasis of catchy electronica is brought to the table on ‘Why So Serious?’
Although incredibly different to anything Bibio has done prior, it is somehow incredibly fitting to the musical tone of this record and Oliver St. Lewis’s vocals complement the track brilliantly. Bibio has certainly attempted something rather new with this record regarding the electronica twists brought to some of the tracks here. But the inclusion of the nostalgic/hazy production values which make all of his records such enjoyable and unique experiences still remain, and certainly do their part to create a cohesive and joyous record.