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Guapo - Elixirs CD (album) cover

ELIXIRS

Guapo

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.79 | 54 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Guapo's third full album since their dramatic musical change (you can read that as since O'Sullivan came into the group), and yet another important progression... After the Crimson/Anekdotian feel of Five Suns, than the slightly Magma-esque post rock of Black Oni, you're in for another surprise here. Now reduced only to a duo, Smith (drums and perc.) and O'Sullivabn (pretty well everything else), also enlist some vocal help on two tracks and a violinist of the opening track. Although only a duo,, this is not stopping Guapo's musical spectrum to enlarge to the widest it's been since their second life began, now ranging from Univers Zero's gloom to Portishead's doom, right through Zeuhl, Rio , Post Rock territories. . Opening on the Jewelled Turtle (featured on the front artwork), right from its very few first notes, you just know that Guapo just got again darker, reaching a sort solemnity that Daniel Denis' squadron is used to, so that when Guapo reaches its mid-Eastern finale of this 13 minutes track, it becomes believable. The following Elsie And Frances (see the next two pages for illustrations) is again right in the UZ alley and almost as convincing as the opening track. O'Sullivan's electric piano is particularly right on the button, but he surprises us on guitars as well, although he doesn't do anything very fancy, he 's on the button as well.

The two tracks that had appeared in a different (instrumental) version on the Twisted Stem EP, and as you might have guessed these are the two sung tracks on this present album. Indeed the two-part Twisted stem are divided on The Heliotrope (some sea weed of some kind I think), while the second is Selenotrope, but it's more of a night (Selena = moon) and day thing (Helios = sun), both plants getting a full double page for illustration. Starting on finger cymbals (sounding Japanese), Heliotrope is more of a post rock with some quiet chants reciting a psalm (or sumthin' like that) and doesn't really evolve and overstays its welcome, doubly so by an excruciatingly long outro. Its night counterpart starts much the same way (finger cymbal) but goes very gloomy and less pleasant, the chants coming to a deranged Gibbons/Bjork proximity, while creepy music is .. The track is that much less easy than its day counterpart, but it has the good taste of quitting while ahead.

The Planks is an upbeat Mid-Eastern-type of tracks that gets its illustrations from some snake and indeed it could have been lifted from some snake charmer's tune book. It's highly un-Guapo like and stands out from the album (actually this could just be a Miasma track lost here), but it's very short and provides a welcome interlude before the closing King Lindorm. Here the doom reaches the Present level (best heard through the piano work), but it's not quite as repetitive or minimalist, while Smith just shines on drums; And O'Sullivan confirms his recent mastery of the guitar, playing both the questions on keyboards and the answers on the guitar. Excellent ending to Elixir, although its illustration on the booklet is not the clearest or obvious.

Yet another very worthy Guapo enterprise, Elixirs has the advantage over the previous two albums to have wider spectrum, but in doing so, Guapo also took a risk of beinbg strange and uneasy, but seeing their first chapter, it's not like the Guapo name reaches the extremes. On a strict value in terms of PA stars, I don't find Elixir better than FS or BO, but different.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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