Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Guido - Anidea (Punch Drunk Records, 2010)

If dubstep was the kick up the arse Bristol’s bassheads needed, they continue to return the favour. One of the most exciting sounds of the moment is the vivid urban psychedelia of Joker, Gemmy and Guido. Guido is the first to put it to the album test, which Anidea passes with flying colours.

While Joker's Digidesign was an anthem in 2009, Guido's Orchestral Lab / Way U Make Me Feel twelve (released the same week) was just as impressive. Anidea proves it was no fluke - Guido's music is more than just another mutation in the long fallout from jungle. Forgoing dubstep's austerity and grime's aggression in favour of melodic excess, Anidea sounds like the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

The key to Guido's accessibility is balance. While the alien arpeggios of videogame music have inspired countless producers, (not least Ikonika, whose delirious Contact, Love, Want, Have is effectively a gaming concept album), Guido compliments them with conventional sounds. For every circular bleep melody or otherwordly synth swell there's a horn, string or piano hook that evokes 70s orchestral soul or ornate 90s R&B. Cat In The Window sounds like Isaac Hayes gone Italo (via the theme from Out Run). It's stunning.

Second single, Beautiful Complication, is just as good - pairing the breathlessness of Aarya's voice with brain damage bass and slamming kicks, it's a perfect synthesis of imagination and accessibility. If the world worked properly it would have been a massive hit last year.

The other big vocal tune is a re-edit of Way U Make Me Feel, showcasing Bristol's go-to girl, Yolanda. A voice as strong and rangey as hers should be a challenge for a producer as melodically dense as Guido but the slow-building arrangement does her proud.

If all that wasn't enough, the vicious snares, staccato squelches and big room strings of You Do It Right reveal fearsome dancefloor skills. Likewise Tango, which updates the heady latin-dub of Sabres Of Paradise's Wilmot for a new generation. Shades of Blue is a brooding stepper lit up with technicolour raindrops in the vein of DJ Wonder's grime classic What. All of these sound great on headphones but will slay through a Function One.

The album closes with Tantalized, a synthesiser masterclass that takes in Curtis Mayfield strings, synapse-shredding guitar and just enough wobble to win over the students. Gemmy and Joker both have albums due out this year (on Planet Mu and Hyperdub respectively). It remains to be seen whether either of them will match Anidea's ambition, confidence and emotional power.

Consider the gauntlet thrown.

Blood Red Sounds rating 9/10

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