This is the sixth album proper from Bibio, aka Stephen Wilkinson, which might surprise those who latched on to his first album for Warp two years ago, Ambivalence Avenue. Wilkinson is a man who works with impressive speed and musical dexterity, and with Mind Bokeh he has completed a companion piece to the previous record.
The title is of great significance, deriving as it does from the Japanese technique of blurring a photo. It gives heavy clues of what to expect in an album that often approaches the music of a certain genre, only to thumb its nose and go off in another direction.
It proves as colourful as its front cover, Wilkinson refusing to rule out any style of music as he takes us through some warm, summery climes. Despite the knowledge that Bibio is a stylistically unhindered writer it still comes as something of a shock to hear Take Off Your Shirt, which starts off about as close to Chromeo as it is possible to get, deadpanning its way through to a catchy chorus. The fact this is still Wilkinson doing the vocals comes as something of a surprise, so idiomatic is his 1980s funk persona.
This is perhaps the track that will divide Bibio fans the most, though the entertaining K Is For Kelson is not far behind it, a glorious if completely irreverent send-up of the Starsky & Hutch theme transcribed for synthesizer and injected with extra P funk. This deceptively lazy style casts its spell on Light Sleep, too, a hazy number, while Pretentious dances unsteadily towards the middle of the floor, its ruminative vocal strangely out of kilter.
While this album would seem to have a short attention span it counters its sense of fun with some more serious, even shady asides. Artists’ Valley is one of these, with snippets of clarinet melody floating upwards like puffs of smoke. Coming straight after Take Off Your Shirt, it is one of several moments on the album that trade outgoing extravagance for thoughtful and intimate. First track Excuses taps into this more downbeat persona, drifting in from its inaudible start with a particularly straight face.
This album ought to further Bibio’s reputation as a talented producer, capable of bending his music to fit several styles at once without making it sound forced, which is quite an achievement. The photo may be blurred, but its colours are enticing and vivid.