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Phantom Brickworks by Bibio - A Fascinating Disappointment

Bibio's freshly released (November 3rd, 2017) album is not all that far-fetched from what this talented artist and producer has graced us with in the past. While it is quite different from his previous releases in many ways, it is similar in that it is a puzzle of sounds, pieced together with dreamy undertones that could be compared to the feelings you get while floating in deep, calm water. Selfishly, I was hoping for a fluffy, 'make you sway side to side' sort of album, like what we got with Mineral Love, released in 2015. Phantom Brickworks was a huge disappointment in that regard. It is deep, somber, thought provoking, and incredible. The amount of thought and time that must have been put into the development of the journey that each song takes you on is astounding. It is clear that Bibio is going through a very contemplative time in his life and his career, and chose to communicate this, quite beautifully, through his music. It tugs at your heartstrings and encourages your imagination to take a stroll down any rocky path you may have walked in your life, or may currently be walking. I might choose it to be the soundtrack for a lonely walk in the rain if I was trying to resolve some sort of conflict within myself. Or, possibly for a scene in a movie where a character is recognizing their innermost demons and coming to terms with the gravity of their life and their actions. It was described by the artist as “a mental portal into places and times—some real, some imaginary, some both.” We can take what we want from it, but the intention behind this painting of sounds will be best described by the painter himself. It is quickly apparent from the very first track, titled 09:13, that he had a much more direct and important intention for this album than to simply please the masses. It is not meant to tickle your ears and give you those fuzzy 'I just want to dance' sort of feelings. The very artistic, yet haunting vibe of Phantom Brickworks will send chills down your spine. This album is in no way a 'flop.' The meaning behind the ambiance and the feeling it creates is fascinating. It is stunning and innovative, like a museum of thoughts and sounds. But.. it is one I will not likely be visiting again anytime soon.


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