Available on: Punch Drunk 12″
This single’s been a long time coming, but the wait hasn’t dulled its sheen.
Bristol’s Guido announced his arrival earlier this year with ‘Orchestral Lab’, a magnificent, synth-string-driven record that brought to mind grime dreamers Ruff Sqwad at their most fanciful and romantic. ‘Beautiful Complication’ builds on that track’s promise, employing auto-tuned female vocals to create a glossily futuristic R&B track anchored by rough bass and accordion-style compression.
The last comparable attempt to re-imagine US R&B sounds according to a British bass-wise sensibility was the Hud Mo-produced Nadsroic EP, but that record felt too arch and over-cooked, more like an art-school experiment than a rough and ready club track. Guido, for all his pop finesse, knows how to tool up his tracks for soundsystem use, and so the poppy melody of ‘Beautiful Complication’ is supported by heavy subs and rhythms that thump and snap with all the simple efficacy of a Rodney Jerkins beat. For all its fatness and colour and foregrounding of melody, it remains minimal and spaced-out.
‘Chakra’s distinctive, sinewy funk is strengthened by the addition a deliberately over-exposed piano that remind me – in a good way – of Bruce Hornsby (via Tupac). For most of the track is content to let the bass and thickly layered strings do the talking, before signing off with a tantalisingly brief techno-style outro.
On the evidence of this 12″ and his previous single, is that Guido – though less prolific – could eventually exceed the achievements of his Purple Wow pals Joker and Gemmy. Not since the heyday of girly garage has UK R&B sounded so distinctive, vivid and viable.