When she decided to buy her son a record every time he got good marks at school, Gutsâ€™s mum didnâ€™t realise the terrible effect this would have. Was she dreaming of a sparkling academic career for her son? Well instead she got him hooked on a habit you can never kick: music. Itâ€™s a trivial pastime for some, but for Guts it was an all- consuming passion, a mine whose passages lead ever deeper and the occasional joy of happening on a tunnel that hasnâ€™t been explored for decades. Already the owner of an impressive record collection as a kid, he quite naturally got into hip-hop as a teenager. The biggest and decisive shock of his life was when he hopped over the Atlantic on a B-boy pilgrimage to New York. Overwhelmed by the cityâ€™s power and energy, Guts added his name to the long list of victims of cultural cataclysm and gorged himself on the so-called â€˜old schoolâ€™ sounds of an East Coast scene at the height of its dominance of rap. KRS ONE, EPMD, Eric B. and Rakim â€“ and the list would obviously not be complete without those prophets of rage, Public Enemy. The rot had well and truly set in. Guts started out as a DJ and then a beatmaker using basic kit such as an Atari 520 ST, an Ensoniq EPS and an SP- 1200, before he and a bunch of mates formed a simple & funky band called Alliance Ethnik. The fresh, catchy blend was a massive hit and sent their album into six-figure orbit supported by heavy radio rotation and sold-out tours. Guts seemed to have the magic knack of churning out funky hit after funky hit, but they didnâ€™t overuse it, despite the herds of rappers who came banging on their door in search of a money- spinning production. Fat Come Back, released in 1998 to herald the return of the Alliance, couldnâ€™t replicate its predecessorâ€™s success and led to the bandâ€™s break- up. But it wasnâ€™t the end of Guts, whoâ€™d spent all these years perfecting his skills alongside Bob Power, Rahzel (The Roots), De La Soul, Common and Biz Markie. As the nineties dawned, no computers crashed, the great Y2K chaos didnâ€™t happen and Guts was still in business. Faster Jay, his accomplice throughout the Alliance years, had founded Kiff Records and set him up with work in a parallel branch of French rap that included the Svinkels, the Rieurs, the Sages Po and above all Big Red. This guy, who was one half of Raggasonic, introduced him to Jamaica, and the Caribbean island gave his brain the same jolt as the Big Apple had back in the late eighties. He got a real culture shock and had some incredible encounters and collaborations (Anthony B, Michael Rose, Sugar Minottâ€¦) that introduced him to new musical lands. 2007 represented a first major change. Having lived in Paris up till then, he headed for Ibiza. Not for the clubs, though. Instead, in the company of his best friend, the MPC4000 and his precious vinyl record collection, he concocted his first solo album, Guts le Bienheureux. Pared-down arrangements and heady loops, out-and-out beatmaking: Pete Rock, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, RJD2, DJ Premier, Jay- Dee and Danger Mouse all come to mind. Released on UK label Wax On Records (set up by DJ EASE of Nightmares On Wax), this pack of little instrumental energy pills brought him to international attention on the back of And The Leaving Is Easy and its mariachi brass riffs. The next step was producing his own records on the Pura Vida Music label that he founded and used to release Freedom, his second album. Mastered by John Dent (Marley, MotÃ¶rhead, etc.), this double vinyl with dark artwork created by graphic designer Mambo showcased Guts with no limits to his inspiration. It abandoned the classical trident of soul, funk and jazz and took a more panoramic view of music, reaching out to Eastern Europe and at other times refocusing on France with a borrowed vocal line by Christophe. The tracks are more structured and crammed with subliminal samples that take us through gentle landscapes or plumb dark, dark depths. They extend to over three minutes, which means he can now interest ears other than ones wedded to hip-hop. The 2011 EP Rage Against My Computer brought his do-it-yourself hiatus to a close and Heavenly Sweetnessâ€™s release of Paradise For All confirms this. Paradise for all is an attractive prospect and Guts proves it is not beyond him as he does his level best to keep his promise with these 11 tracks. There are several circles of hell â€“ and so it is with heaven. Gutsâ€™s version of it covers a kaleidoscope of different atmospheres, feelings and emotions, and he never repeats himself. Juicy rhythms ripened in the sun of his Ibizan home, 70s Italian gangster movies and pure hip- hop with ultra-fat beats; melancholy strings and nostalgic piano lines mix perfectly with punchy reggae-soul and throbbing riddim, while self-effacing arrangements in the background of the mix only become audible after several long listens with headphones.