Guido – Moods of Future Joy (Tectonic)
Classically trained producer Guido, hailed in the late 00s as part of a more musical mutation of dubstep, is back with his second full-length album – can he reach his former heights?
Over the years thousands of artists have drowned in hype, their initial flashes of brilliance smothered beneath the waves of press attention, leaving them with little breath left for actually making music. Every musician wants attention and listeners – but hype is something else: hype is an external event, not an internal achievement, and the best a young hopeful can do is surf the wave as long as it lasts and not lose sight of why they wanted to make music in the first place. Was it the money (if you’re lucky) or the buzz of nailing a beat? Was it the fame and adulation or the graft in the studio and the joy of creating something only you could make?
In 2009 Guido lived through the hype when he was named as part of the ‘purple trinity’ strand of dubstep – a more thoughtful and musical variant on the dance music mutation that, at the time, was descending into heavy-metal bass brutalism on its way to conquering the world. Alongside fellow Bristolians Joker and Gemmy, Guido released a handful of well received 12”s and a full length album that explored many possibilities that were soon forgotten by others in the rush for the biggest bass wobble; now he’s back with a selection of hypnotic recordings from deep within the bassbins of Bristol, determinedly exploring his own musical world.
As someone who came of age in the early 90s I’m genetically predisposed to love anything that sounds acid-esque and it was a pleasant surprise when album opener Green Eyed Monster dropped with a tight little melody tweaked up to the sky. GEM, with it’s sweet simple vocal and hyper-crisp snares is a good taster for the tunes that flow behind it: 21st century half-step soul, made for dark basements and smoky half-lit rooms, glowing with a post-club buzz. He hasn’t run away from the mutant R&B elements of his first few records; there are still the high-pitched synth lines and call-and-response routines between squelches and shrieks, all dragged into the gutter by the fine rounded bass that periodically clutches each track in its grasp.
Highlights include Lucky Git which rides along on a snatch of clipped warped guitar and descending string parts, the melody constantly chasing the beat and somehow sounding never quite in sync even though it’s as tight as a snare-skin. Letting Go, the second vocal tune, is another highlight with the raw untreated voice of Emma Lou sitting beautifully on the stuttering, yearning track. Jupiter is built around a lovely piano line, reminiscent of the modern piano work of Canadian musical genius Chilly Gonzales, while NRG stomps in on a warped synth progression and falls apart in the middle before reconstructing itself in a swirl of rave’s new clothes at the end. In contrast Midnight Savannah wouldn’t have sounded out of place on FSOL’s Dead Cities album – paranoid percussion trapping a picked out melody that eventually soars free, riding the bassline to freedom at the end of the song.
It’s not foolproof, with some songs lacking enough of a hook to demand attention, but in a world of lowest common denominator trance-stab/break/bass-drop/rinse/repeat it’s refreshing to hear someone at least trying to swim in deeper waters.