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HISTORY OF THE VISITATION

Guapo

RIO/Avant-Prog


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kev rowland
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Crossover Team
4 stars There are times, just times you understand, when I question my sanity. Having now played this album a few times I wonder how can anyone enjoy listening to music where it is at the very edge of the definition? I can honestly say that I don't think that I would have listened to this all the way through when I was younger ? like broad beans and brussel sprouts this is something that is almost exclusively the preserve of those who are older and can savour the experience. The band has been going for 19 years, and currently comprises drummer and founding member David J. Smith with mainstays Kavus Torabi (Cardiacs, Knifeworld) on guitar and James Sedwards (N°ght) on bass, joined by recent addition Emmett Elvin (Chrome Hoof, Knifeworld) on keyboards.

Now as soon as I see the name Cardiacs I sit up and pay attention, and have also enjoyed what I have heard from Knifeworld, but it is fair to say that these guys understanding of music here (the label helpfully provides some references such as controlled chaos, atonal harmony, uplifting darkness, and beautiful destruction) is quite different to many. They seem to mix RIO with prog, and while King Crimson is a fairly obvious reference it is possible to also bring Magma, Univers Zero, elements of Can, The Mars Volta etc. easy listening this isn't.

This instrumental album only contains three songs, and the first of these is twenty six minutes long so it is heads down and see you at the end. There are large similarities with free jazz, although never quite veering into that territory although reedmen Thomas Scott and Dave Newhouse from Maryland avant jazz-rock institution The Muffins are some of the guests taking part. The label describes this as "Sun Ra jamming with Stravinsky", and if that makes you believe that this can be hard work to listen to, yet ultimately rewarding, then you would be right. This will only appeal to a small part of the music buying public, but those who enjoy finding something different need to investigate further. www.cuneiformrecords.com

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#930470)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars After a four or five years hiatus, Guapo returns with what we could e'asily call their Mk3 era, since O'Sullivan has now left. Indeed, the band's musical scope had dramatically shifted from a noisy experimental and dissonant quagmire, to a much more palatable zeuhl-ish post rock (from Five Suns onwards). Despite bassist Thompson quickly dropping out of the picture, the trio (at first), then a duo, became a quartet with the preceding Elixirs. Replacing O'Sullivan is Emmett Emvin, but his style does not differ much much his predecessor, especuially that he's using more or less the same instruments, but mainly a Rhodes. Musically the band had shifted from a certain form of Zeuhl to an interesting Post Rock, then slowly growing into their unclassifiable brand of prog. A rather bland outer artwork, though the inner folds are much brighter and sunnier forest shots, which is rather unusual for the band. Also invited are a bunch of horn players (5) and two string players, though they're not overly present, and therefore this does not change the band's general soundscapes.

The album itself features three tracks, the first of which is a five-movement 26-mns Pilman Radiant. As usual the piece opens with a lengthy and calm intro, gradually picking up momentum and intensity, to lead us into the demented soundscapes and foray deeply in the entrails of the band's musical realm. The short (less than 5-mins) Complex 7 track can be seen as the intro of the 11-mins finale Tremors From The Future piece., which is filled with heroics and histrionics. Great stuff.

As a bonus, the ever-excellent Cuneiform label includes a DVD that features two concert footages from two different festivals (Nearfest 06 and RIO Fest 07) when O'Sullivan was still in the band. If both footage are very interesting, don't expect professional filming (the sound is quite OK, though), as it's mostly one (sometimes two fixed cameras shooting the scene. Nearfest's Five Suns film is in black & white and shows the amazing live dynamics of the band, despite two seated musicians. The French RIO fest (which yours truly attended) footage is shot in colour, but it would be an exaggeration to say that it is in superior quality than its companion footage. However, I had almost forgotten how the King Lindorm piece gad enthralled me back then. Yet another absolutely stunning Cuneiform and Guapo album, one that will give me further enticement to check them out live yet another time (seen them four times already) at this year when they return to this year's RIO fest.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#996483)
Posted Friday, July 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I pretty much quit giving 5 stars for anything but "the gods of the golden era." I pretty much quit writing reviews, as I was (and still am) so enthralled with the aforementioned giants of prog and the newly remixed, 5.1 or remastered additions of these heroes (Early Genesis, Tull, etc....)

Then I heard this Guapo CD - "History Of The Visitation." My god, what a masterwork. I have a couple other albums of theirs, and they are quite wonderful, leaving hope for future RIO's with a new slant. THIS IS THAT HOPE!

From beginning to end, your ears, soul and heart are turned upside down, smoothed out, and then put under intense pressure, all to be relieved by the sheer beauty of tone and color that works so well together. Obvious reference points are the trad RIO giants - Univerze Zero, Art Zoyd, a bit of Henry Cow, etc....but this is English RIO at its best, and reawakens what makes the best of RIO so insatiable to ears that love the style.

A previous reviewer stated that maybe you have to be an older listener (of which I am!) to really appreciate this, and maybe he's right. But I hope that a younger generation can hear this wonderful work of Guapo, understand that it is derived from learning, listening to past and present, and pure magic and talent.

Bravo Guapo, Bravo!

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Send comments to tmay102436 (BETA) | Report this review (#1297124)
Posted Sunday, October 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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