Since the release of Bibio’s pensive album last November, “Phantom Brickworks” has soundtracked many poignant and personal moments of my life over the past 12 months. Equally timeless, soothing and haunting, the music contained within has provided respite to tired ears, allowing the mind to wander during reflective states and stressful moments, no matter the moment, place or people you may’ve been with.
I recently learnt that two tracks from the album were actually used to soundtrack one of our writers’ wedding day. “Phantom Brickworks II” and “Phantom Brickworks III” were played out to the congregation as the newly wedded couple cemented their vowels and walked down the aisle to exit the church. Two truly appropriate compositions that go hand-in-hand with the jubilant chimes of the church bells.
A year on and Stephen Wilkinson aka Bibio picks up from where he left off, unearthing two unheard cuts from the Phantom Brickworks sessions, offered up in the form of a deluxe limited edition photo-book and extended player.
First up is ‘Phantom Brickworks IV‘ – a beautiful piano composition featuring a delicate and inspiring medley. Easy to imagine this soundtracking that moment when you are caught in a downpour and the sun breaks through bruised clouds, transforming those plump rain droplets into a shimmering cascade. As the track progresses the piano loop is sent through an array of effects to create a sense of dislocation that steadily heightens the track’s atmosphere.
‘Phantom Brickworks V‘ starts off with the same piano loop as the previous. As you approach the 1:30 minute mark it suddenly deteriorates into a fusion of white noise and field recordings. Listen closely and you can hear the drone of heavy-mining machinery and excavators, reversing and pummelling boulders into aggregate. At the 4:20 minute mark a crystal clear piano medley eventually surfaces, conjuring up an ill-fated feeling, as if descending the listener into a winter for the soul.
Overall a beautiful addendum to the album, ‘Phantom Brickworks IV & V‘ acts as the ideal bookend to Bibio’s project. Warp have confirmed new music from Wilkinson in 2019, but whether he continues down this haunting route or dives into something completely alien is still unknown. Time will tell if this body of work will withstand the test of time, but personally speaking it couldn’t arrive at a more appropriate time as the last remaining leaves fall to the ground.
Phantom Brickworks IV & V is available to purchase via Bibio’s Bleep Store. A standard black vinyl version and digital are also available.
1. Phantom Brickworks IV
2. Phantom Brickworks V