Music

Bibio: The Apple and the Tooth

Bibio caps off what may prove to be the best year of his life with The Apple and the Tooth, a well-deserved victory lap and a celebration of his new identity.


Bibio

The Apple and the Tooth

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2009-11-10
UK Release Date: 2009-11-09
Amazon
iTunes

One year ago, Bibio was scenery, something you’d let linger on the player when you didn’t want the music to pull any stunts. He’d already released two fine albums of treated folk guitar loops, hold everything, and when this February's Vignetting the Compost grew Bibio’s ambitions by about six centimeters I was ready to believe he was going to stay bundled up in his hidey hole niche forever. Whoops. From Vignetting the Compost to the ravishing Ovals and Emeralds EP to Ambivalence Avenue -- 2009’s sweetest surprise -- Bibio evolved at warp speed and utilized his matchless guitar tones to embrace nothing less than the future of electronic music. And now he caps off what may prove to be the best year of his life with The Apple and the Tooth, a well-deserved victory lap and a celebration of his new identity.

Part of this identity has to do with fluxion in and of itself, the steadfast refusal to be pegged (how’s that for a quick turnaround?), and it’s made his most recent work supremely inviting to remixers who can glom onto whichever side of him they’d like. Seven low-to-high-profile acts -- Clark, Wax Stag, Eskmo, Letherette, the Gentleman Losers, Lone, and Keaver & Brause -- have done exactly that with most of Ambivalence Avenue, although their fidelity to the templates varies. Letherette’s version of “Lovers’ Carvings”, for instance, uses almost nothing from the original, vaporizing its vocals but borrowing the melody directly from DJ Cam’s “Dieu Reconnaitra Les Siens” (which I’m sure was taken from somewhere else). Keaver & Brause erase the last 95% of “Fire Ant” and write their own instro-hip-hop breakdown even further in the vein of Mike Slott and Hudson Mohawke than “Fire Ant” already was. Clark, in his reliably tricked-out manner, cuts poor “S’Vive” into itty bitty pieces until you can’t even tell what’s what.

On the more faithful side, Wax Stag streamlines “Sugarette” by puffing up the synthesizers and keeping the beat largely as an anchor, and Finland’s the Gentleman Losers soften the texture of “Haikuesque” considerably, moving it away from the stringy treatments Bibio is still in the questionable habit of employing. Bibio himself offers a remix of “The Palm of Your Wave” that stretches out the original to twice its length and carries the former interlude all the way to the finish line. Only Lone’s contribution fails, with its chintzy drum kits, laggard rhythms and nausea-inducing mixing levels. The minute-long “All the Flowers” was ripe for the retooling, and it sort of sounds like a Lone song already, so it was his to lose. Oh well.

The real treasures aren’t the remixes anyway -- they’re the four new songs Bibio has up his sleeve and includes at the start of the record. The title track takes the prize, working a jumpy flute duet into a hip-hop/funk interpretation of the Doobie Brothers. It segues all too naturally into “Rotten Rudd”, which makes me think of the folk music Guillermo Scott Herren might have written if he’d taken his head out of the clouds for a minute. “Bones & Skulls” and “Steal the Lamp” move into more heavily electronic territory; the latter slinks like a desert serpent for a painfully quick two minutes before an unholy mess of breakbeats squashes everything and brings the track lumbering to its conclusion. Is this Bibio telling us he’s done with electronic music? What’s next up for him? Who knows, and I’m not about to conjecture because I already made that mistake once. Best just to hitch a ride on his sporty hay wagon and see where he takes us.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image