The recording project of England's Stephen Wilkinson, Bibio (named after a fly-fishing lure his father had when he was young) combines field recordings, guitars, busted samplers, and some seriously lo-fidelity recording to create a musical world that's seeped in nature and nostalgia. His debut of Fi was a hit-or-miss affair that at times conjured up the textural grandeur of artists like Boards Of Canada, but at other times lapsed into fuzzy warblings that didn't seem to go much of anywhere.
Hand Cranked is the appropriately-titled second release from Wilkinson and the release largely continues down the same path as his debut, continuing the obsession with crackled and crusty recording while changing things up ever so slightly in places. One difference of note is that the release seems a bit more upbeat in playing. Wilkinson bursts forth with some rather dextrous playing in places, and tracks like the lovely "Quantrock" and "Marram" are album standouts, with the latter especially giving off a heady dose of nostalgia and better days gone by. The playful "Above The Rooftops" even changes things up nicely with roll after roll of cascading piano melodies that sound like they're being beamed in from some long-lost parlor sunny Saturday afternoon session.
Unfortunately, the album has just as much or more filler than the debut, and at over fifty minutes in length, it simply goes on for way too long. The excellent-titled "Cherry Go Round" mingles some great overlapping guitar melody loops, but at almost six minutes wears out its welcome at about the halfway point. At another point, WIlkinson takes a chance with a vocal track, but "Aberriw" is so absolutely buried in grit and compression that recording quality actually seems to work against what could have been a bright and pretty piece. Despite some solid moments, Hand Cranked is another hit and miss effort from Bibio.