Quickly following up last year's well-received A Mineral Love, Stephen Wilkinson (aka Bibio) becomes something of a medium as he channels haunted sounds on his largely improvised follow-up, Phantom Brickworks.
Recording in places that have been, according to Wilkinson, "charged with atmosphere because of what it has been through or what it has been," the nine-track, 75-minute LP finds the British artist completely abandoning his folktronica sound for something more atmospheric and shapeless. Utilizing icy piano and a cascading wash of gentle effects, Wilkinson has crafted his first fully ambient LP, coming off a bit less structured than the KLF's Chill Out and a bit more repetitive and rhythmic than Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports.
Though Wilkinson has always approached his craft with a level of serenity and detail, much of this LP works with beautifully constructed melodies that seem to unfold throughout each piece. Unfortunately, at times Phantom Brickworks seems too single-minded to justify some tracks' 13- and 16-minute runtimes, with only the two-minute "Ivy Charcoal" providing the listener with something wholly digestible.
Wilkinson's eighth full-length shows the musician's adeptness at thoughtful, patient compositions, but he seems to have forgotten the value of self-editing. (Warp)