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Guapo - Twisted Stems CD (album) cover





3.61 | 10 ratings

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4 stars Originally issued as a very limited edition 7" single to coincide with their first American tour, this interesting ep by Guapo was recently given a well deserved CD release. As well as marking their first American tour, it's the first release by Guapo's current incarnation of founder/drummer Dave Smith and keyboard/multi instrumentalist Daniel O'Sullivan, the duo expanding to a quartet for live performances and using guest musicians where necessary in the studio.

It's also something of a musical departure for them. 'The Heliotrope' is a gorgeous, low key piece with a jazzy feel built around a minimal percussion part and a simple piano figure, with a bass line that wanders pleasantly through the spaces in the arrangement. There's something of The Necks' sonic sculpture in here, and even a hint of EST's spacier excursions on their recent albums, but darker elements slowly manifest themselves as the piece unfolds. 'The Selenetrope' builds on this theme, but the piano chords become darker and Dave Smith's featherlight snare drum work becomes more forceful and aggressive, leading us into slightly more familiar Guapo territory - the feel here (though not the sound) is closer to Goblin's horror movie soundtracks. At the end of the 15 minute playing time the soundscape has moved light and airy to a stygian underworld, all of which has been achieved with discipline and restraint.

None of this is completely unprecedented; the final two tracks on 5 Suns showed the jazzy side of the band's muse, while Guapo's track on their shared project with Cerebus Shoal had some of the near ambient mood of the opening minutes. Whether this is a foretaste of their next album or simply an interesting sideways step, Twisted Stems is a fully realised stand alone piece that well up to the high standards set by 5 Suns and Black Oni. Recommended.

Syzygy | 4/5 |


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