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Guapo - Five Suns CD (album) cover

FIVE SUNS

Guapo

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.10 | 100 ratings

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Syzygy
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 5 suns is the 6th CD offering and the 5th album from British trio Guapo, and for me the first (and so far only) 5 star prog album of the 3rd millennium. Founder members Matt Thompson and Dave Smith were joined by keyboard player Daniel O'Sullivan a couple of years ago and they have coalesced into a musical force on a par with King Crimson of 1973/4, the Vander/Top edition of Magma or Univers Zero circa Ceux du Dehors. If they were simply replaying the darker prog sounds of 30 years ago, no matter how well, they would not justify a 5 star rave write up. What makes Guapo stand out is that they have taken the original blueprint and made it sound contemporary - they stand up well next to GYBE as well as to Magma. This is probably down to their instrumentation - they are essentially a Fender Rhodes/Bass/Drums trio, which at times calls Magma and Mahavishnu Orchestra to mind, but they also employ electronica and effects which give a more up to date sound. They also avoid lengthy solos and unnecessary noodling, and make great use of quiet/loud dynamics.

The main body of the album is taken up with 5 Suns parts 1 - 5, although really it's one continuous 46 minute dark, disturbing epic. It starts off with the sound of a gong, not unlike Mahavishnu's first album, but the rhythm section soon kick in and we're away on a nightmare journey through dank subterranean passages, with the sounds of distant pursuers in our ears and no exit in sight. Dave Smith is a remarkable and extremely physical drummer, more emphatically a rocker than Daniel Denis or Christian Vander but with a more subtle touch than Keith Moon or John Bonham. Matt Thompson is an agile bassist, equally capable of pushing the beat forward or playing melodically or both simultaneously. Together they have the ability to play the kind of rapid fire, stop-start rhythms that Ruins specialise in. Daniel O'Sullivan mostly plays chords and arpeggios on the Fender Rhodes, using other instruments to bleed disturbing noises into the mix. Tempos speed up and slow down, and finally the whole thing ends as it began with Dave Smith's gong.

Had that been the whole album it would still have merited 5 stars, but after a minute's silence we are treated to two further tracks, Mictlan and Topan. Whilst they don't exactly pull on party hats and start a singalong, these additional tracks do show a more melodic, jazzy side to Guapo's muse. Daniel O'Sullivan in particular gets to cut loose on Mictlan, which also has a pleasant snatch of Mellotron thrown in for good measure.

5 Suns is essential listening for anybody who is wondering whether progressive rock has a future. Hopefully, Guapo have plenty more like this in store.

Syzygy | 5/5 |

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