English folk and electronic artist Bibio has emerged with another music video. The song featured is “CAPEL CELYN,” another track from his latest release “Phantom Brickworks,” an ephemeral and ghostly collection of ambient tracks that will haunt you long after you’ve stopped listening.
The album, compiled from tracks recorded over a period of ten years, evokes the hidden past that can exist in any landscape. Bibio expanded on the meaning of this in his own words:
“I don’t believe in ghosts but I do believe places can be haunted by meaning. Places change, not always for the better and not always by natural, benevolent or politically sound means. A place can be charged with atmosphere because of what it has been through or what it has been.”
Like the filmwork for “Phantom Brickworks III,” a song that was released around the same time as the album, the latest video is a slow-moving journey through an abandoned landscape. Unlike the more natural imagery of “Phantom Brickworks III,” the scenery for “CAPEL CELYN” documents the past relics of man in communion with nature, whether it’s overgrown stairs covered with ivy or rusted pipes laying dormant on the forest floor.
The video is nearly 8 minutes long, moving us through its landscape in an achingly slow pace. Toward the middle of the journey we find ourselves in a strange, crypt-like area with two low stone buildings stretching off into the distance. From one of the entryways a powerful reddish orange light spills out onto the grass, illuminating the building across from it. With the music washing us over with repetitive synth and far-off, almost human voices, the effect is honestly a little spine-chilling.
I find an interesting mirror to Bibio’s video in the writing of W.G. Sebald, the eminent German author that spent much of his adult life teaching in England. His 1995 book “The Rings of Saturn” documented a journey the author took on foot through Suffolk. The subject matter of the book completely absorbs the historical context of the various landscapes the narrator encounters, suffusing the narrative with historical weight of time that can forever stain a place or landscape.
As I watch this video by Bibio, I can’t help but be reminded of Sebald. The traveling of a path through the abandoned places of man seems Sebaldian in many ways. I can almost imagine his prose echoing over the ghostly pallor of Bibio’s music, suggesting how a place we encounter can be “haunted by meaning.” When we are aware of the atmosphere of a place, our experience of it changes for better or worse, haunted by the historical context that it now lives inside of.
Like Sebald, Bibio’s music and accompanying videos make us highly aware of the past in all its beauty and wonder. Like a ghost story that turns the woods into a breeding ground for monsters and devils, the telling of a place’s story transforms it in our mind, forever changing its atmosphere and our experience of it.