|West Midlands, UK-based electronic producer Stephen Wilkinson has previously released three albums as Bibio, with his combination of treated electronic drones, field recordings and folk influences calling to mind the similarly pastoral likes of Boards Of Canada. He’s also something of a prolific guy, this latest six track EP (his last release for Mush before signing to Warp) emerging just a couple of months after his preceding third album Vignetting The Compost. While that aforementioned album showed Wilkinson’s use of folk elements in full evidence however, Ovals & Emeralds is a considerably more deconstructed affair. In this case, Wilkinson’s predominant focus is on working with detuned and electronically treated vinyl sources, resulting in a beatless collection of tracks that sound sepia-toned, as if they were beamed in from some other age. Opening track "Oval Emerald Vertigo" offers up a good taste of this approach, sending what sounds like a loop of vintage soul strings rolling against disorienting layers of vinyl drag and delayed-out harmonics, the resulting woozy psychedelic fusion at points calling to mind an ice-cream van slowing down.
By contrast, "The Death Of A Trapeze Artist" sees blurry, phased out piano elements slowly giving way to delicate treated guitar textures and wafting harmonic ambience, before "Carosello Elitticco" sees some of the familiar folk-derived elements returning to the foreground as feathery, plucked acoustic guitar notes spiral against a beatific backdrop of gentle flutes and sampled birdsong, a melodic aesthetic that also spills over into "Six String Marenghi," shortly before things waft out into shimmering synthetic ambience. It’s the seven minute long "Polycoulrophon" that really offers up the strangest trip here, with looped and detuned flute samples gradually accelerating at dizzying speed, only to get sucked down into a black hole of filtering, the resulting eerie ambient wander amidst spooky, dubbed-out textures and spiraling, melodic notes only being broken as proceedings rise back out through a wash of glistening vibraphone melodics. File this one under 'repeat listening' – indeed, Ovals & Emeralds needs to be given time to reveal its full detail. - Cyclic Defrost