By Amy M. Patt
Once again, Bibio‘s Stephen Wilkinson has created a dreamy soundscape to transport us away from the mundane and into the musical.
His eleventh album, “Sleep on the Wing,” is mainly instrumental, featuring mandolin and fiddle, along with a background of other string instruments. Most of the songs are short; the longest track, “The Milky Way Over Ratlinghope” * clocking in at 4:21 – consists of light vocalizations trailing behind a faint piano and prominent strings. “Lightspout Hollow,” is like the soundtrack to distant, happy memories; close your eyes and you see children spilling across sun-dappled lawns, swinging on tree branches, playing in a creek as birdsong and flowing water resonate in the background. The fifth song, “Miss Blennerhassett,” makes you wonder if the namesake was a favorite neighbor or teacher and suggests the cheerful ambiance of people dancing and clapping at a picnic or county fair.
Overall, the sound is provincial, comforting. This is the kind of light-hearted music you might hear while watching a sunset, or a group of birds taking flight over a body of water. It’s easy to imagine that Wilkinson’s childhood home in England’s West Midlands might have served as inspiration for the album.
In its entirety, “Sleep on the Wing” runs for less than 30 minutes, but in that short amount of time, you are taken on a beautiful journey through melodic whimsy. Go for a drive or find a comfortable seat, preferably a hammock somewhere sunny and breezy, and give this album a listen.
*Ratlinghope is a village and civil parish in Shropshire, England.