Sach O really likes the horn sound in Swizz Beats’ “Down Bottom“(Nhjic).
Hopefully, this is the last time Bristol producer Guido ever has to suffer a Joker comparison. Though both hail from Dubstep’s second home, are approximately the same age and have been known to bust out G-Funk-inspired synthesizers in a genre previously known for dark foreboding bass, Anidea is proof positive that Guido has developed a sound that’s entirely his own. Better yet, it’s a fantastic sound merging orchestral bombast, digital sheen, feminine sensibilities and a refreshingly honest and un-ironic view of artificial instrumentation into a neon-splattered mutant that’s as adaptable as it is surprising.
Though nominally emerging from the DJ friendly depths of ‘Ardcore Continuum UK dance music, Guido has shown a flair for pop from the beginning, earning a rep with remixes for female vocalists Yolanda, Rox and Lauren Pritchard. This R&B flavored accent runs through Anidea, resulting in some of its best moments. Lead single “Beautiful Complication” is the love child of Timbaland’s work with Aaliyah and the glitziest of UK Garage while “Way U Make Me Feel” re-imagines the hook to Jay-Z’s “Can’t Knock the Hustle” as a whole tune played through an SNES sound chip. Both land in between traditional R&B “songs” and dance floor hyper-disco that processes diva vocalists within an inch of their lives. Thankfully, Guido avoids the easy way out opting not for prepackaged autotune pluggins but instead for well-recorded performances and painstakingly layered effects. Based on his work so far, there’s no reason this kid shouldn’t be handling Rihanna’s entire next album or better yet, be molding a vocalist of his own into the next R&B sensation.
While Anidea’s vocal singles sound like next-level pop, its instrumental body features a hybrid mix of orchestral arrangements and synthesized instrumentation. Favoring obviously artificial synth-patches to more realistic tones, Guido’s solo tunes sound like neither grime nor dubstep but the result of hours spent listening to classical symphonies and late 90’s Korg Triton rap productions before deciding that they’d both sound better spliced together with more bass. Opener “Orchestral Lab” features horns straight out of a Swizz Beats joint, closer “Tantalized” opts for sweeping Bruckheimer ready string stabs and album highlight “Mad Sax” merges both into a shimmering, plastic piece of funk that somehow sounds epic without being cheesy. Rather than using the plasticity of his sound sources as a “wink wink, nudge nudge” send up, Guido instead uses synthesized orchestration in a way that few have done since the 80’s: to make old instruments sound new and futuristic. Balk if you will purists, but the daring sonic booms on display here feel a hell of a lot fresher than any “proper” recordings I’ve heard in a minute.
Maybe I’m wrong and it’s just a question of availability and Anidea’s success will fuel collaborations with The Bristol Symphony Orchestra. Truth be told, that would be interesting too but until it comes to pass, Anidea stands as one of the most interesting UK Bass albums of the year joining Ikonika’s debut near the top of the heap. Though I chose to focus on R&B and orchestral joints, there are more than enough club bangers (“Tango”, “Cat In the Window”) and deep cuts (Take Me Higher’s future funk, “Shades of Blue” with its dark Velcro percussion) to keep original heads satisfied. Anidea may not quite confirm Guido’s direction for the future, but whether it’s Maestro, Super-DJ or R&B super-producer, it’ll definitely make for one hell of a ride.