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Guapo Five Suns album cover
4.03 | 139 ratings | 19 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Five Suns - Part 1 (4:31)
2. Five Suns - Part 2 (10:19)
3. Five Suns - Part 3 (10:30)
4. Five Suns - Part 4 (12:57)
5. Five Suns - Part 5 (7:55)
6. [silence] (1:00)
7. Mictlan (8:58)
8. Topan (6:37)

Total Time: 63:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Matt Thompson / guitar, bass, sampler
- Daniel O'Sullivan / Fender Rhodes, organ, Mellotron, harmonium, guitar, sampler
- Dave Smith / drums, percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Yukimaro Takematsu

CD Cuneiform Records - Rune 184 (2004, US)

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GUAPO Five Suns ratings distribution

(139 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GUAPO Five Suns reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Not much can be added to Chris Gleeson's excellent review, but I will try anyway! But Since he was quite thorough in his description of the album and i agree with his point of view (bar the 5 stars rating to which I correct to 4 stars). I will talk about side issues.

This is the first album of the toptally different Guapo having lost all of their frontman and only keeping this fabulous duo of Thompson on bass and Smith on drums. And what a team they are! They are joined by a younger KB man O'Sullivan that plays mainly Fender Rhodes but also Mellotrons , organ, harmonium (although in concert , this is Thompson playing that one )but I must say that guitars are very discreet. Since Fender rhodes electric piano is OSullivan's main instrument , one can hear some Mike Ratledge (Soft Machine) influences but not overbearing.

Among the younger groups Guapo can be likened to would be Quebec's Pangee, France's Nebelnest and vmore recent Djam Karet albums. Also sometimes , I was brought to think of early Anekdoten.

In concert , last Sunday in Brussels, they turned in a stellar rendition of Five Suns but also most of their new album Black Oni which sounds very similar to this album. Thompson provided a very pedestrian show but all three are very expressive while reproducing their music. Actually , this is the best concert I've seen so far this year.

Review by Fishy
4 stars This must be one of the most original releases I've heard since long time. Although I do recognize some elements from King Crimson's red and vroom period or even Anekdoten. Still there's more to it. The sound of this instrumental music is in between progressive/psychedelic and postrock from bands like "Explosions in the sky" or "Godspeed". It's post rock because of the melodies that slowly return on and on while the tension is building up. I would call it progressive rock because of the wall of sound and the excellent way the guys are handling their instruments. On "five suns part 2" for example there's the power from the guitar reminiscent to Sonic Youth, the powerful Wetton like bass lines and acrobat drums but on the other hand there's also a tiny sound of a hammond organ and a spooky mellotron. The combination of these very different ingredients gives a splendid result ! Needless to say this music is very basic and sober although quite detailed. Although I never listen more than a couple of songs at once, each track is compelling all the way. My personal favorite may be "Topan", a calm track with emphasis on the gentle Hammond sounds especially on the opening tones. Never heard anything from this band before so I can't compare this record to other Guapo releases but this is a fine and most original effort worth of checking out for those who like some instrumental, dark and powerful music.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Guapo really wowed me with their most recent release Black Oni (released in 2005). This album, released before Black Oni in 2005, is a precursor to that album sonically, and is really almost up to the quality that Black Oni was. But enough about Black Oni and a lot more about Five Suns. Daniel O'Sullivan, Matt Thompson, and Dave Smith comprise the trio unit of Guapo, and it is actually just amazing how three men can make such a wall of sound so dense and full of life at the same time. All of them are virtuosos and all have impeccable skills, from Thompson's raging bass lines to the precision drumming of Smith, all with a heavy dosage of vintage keyboard and guitar stylings from O'Sullivan, who really is the key member to these two albums unique sound. This unique sound actually brings up thoughts of mid 70s King Crimson with a nice heavy dosage of Magma just for good measure and the combination is quite stunning. The album itself is a combination of three pieces, the first is the multi piece epic Five Suns (indexed into 5 different tracks of varying length), then a minute of silence (with a track devoted to that), and two following pieces that don't have anything to do with each other. In the end, though, you probably won't be the same once you listen to this album.

The album opens with the 46 minute epic Five Suns. The epic crashing gong opens up what for the listener will be an uneasy ride. There is an unsettling atmosphere throughout the entire piece, but the beginning is where the most tension lies mainly because you don't know what direction the group will take next. O'Sullivan seems to be heavily relient on the Fender Rhodes, mainly providing chords and arpeggios on top of the sonic rhythmic assault, and it is rather evident from the opening minutes of the piece. His guitar stylings later in the piece rely mainly on dissonant phrasing and giving a real Fripp vibe throughout. Right from the beginning you can hear the style of Dave Smith as well, in which he is a powerful drummer often going for brute force rather than subtle addition, and Thompson from the beginning offers s brutal and consistent bass patterns that not only keep the beat but offer a grueling pace and are often very melodic at the same time. The second part of the song is where things really get cooking, with a nice Krimson-esque mellotron lead with some nice ascending bass riffs and some great snare patterns underneath. The best part of this song in my opinion comes in at the beginning of the third part, where there is an incredible down beat on the bass and some great unison snare/hi-hat work and the guitar first really comes into the foray, it just is the perfect atmosphere and it really strikes the perfect counterpoint to the softer section before it. But that's just getting towards the middle, there's a lot left to be said. The variance in keyboards must also be noted, although most tones are found on the Rhodes, there are some great hammond and mellotron sections (usually the hammond comes in during the more hectic and frenetic parts of this piece) as well as a bit of harmonium to spice things up a bit. In the end, the centerpiece of the album would ultimately be the best part, with spectacular playing on all parts and creative riffs and sounds that really leave no one alive.

After the maelstrom of sound that is Five Suns a brief intermission is played in the form of a minute of silence. That's right, a track that is nothing but sixty seconds of nothingness. The next two pieces that round off the album are Mictlan and Topan. The first of these pieces, Mictlan, is a more hammond relient piece with some nice lead Fender Rhodes arpeggios and a consistent drum pattern that really picks up in intensity. The dissonant chord progressions fit nicely with the subtle guitar work and the monstrous bass lines. It certainly doesn't really compare to Five Suns, but it's still a really creative piece with some nice innovative work. What I like about these two pieces in that they are usually concise and don't really meander around riffs and sections that don't really need to be there or sections that overstay their welcome in a song. I must also mention that on these pieces the uses of odd time is more prevalent than on the first piece of the album, with Mictlan having sections of 7/4 and 7/8 and both motifs fitting well within the piece (the 7/4 theme is the main part of the song as well). Topan is the official closer of the album, and it takes a softer turn for the group, with a heavy use of atmosphere rather than a choatic wall of sound. A subtle buildup breaks into some solid bass riffing and a nice electric piano piece with floaty chords played above the somewhat subdued, yet still heavily physical drumming. In the end, the piece gives the album a suitable farewell and I'm quite impressed with it as well, although it is a bit slow in the middle sections.

Overall, Avant-Garde fans will not go wrong with the purchase of either this album or Black Oni. While not as good (or as technically challenging or dense) as Black Oni, this is still a phenomenal precursor to that style that they would play and Guapo is really one of the most cutting edge and in my opinion progressive groups around these days. Fans of the Red era of King Crimson and the heavier bass oriented works of Magma can't go wrong with a purchase of this as well, as those two influences are indeed strong, yet they don't go the extra mile and outright copy them (which is a good thing, mind you). As for me, I think this is an almost masterpiece, but there are some minor things that keep it from getting full marks. 4.5/5.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars Their sound is drum and bass driven with plenty of mellotron and it's as dark as the night. This is a very powerful, experimental and dynamic all-instrumental album.They really remind me of ANEKDOTEN at times and I really like the way they use the keyboards.

The record starts with "Five Suns" a five part 46 1/2 minute suite. A loud gong opens the proceedings and then we experience a lot of atmosphere with keys. More gongs clash before it starts to get intense and chaotic after 2 minutes as the sound builds. Powerful sound 3 minutes in and this part 1 ends with a gong a minute later. Part 2 is my favourite, i'm so reminded of ANEKDOTEN bacause of the mellotron storm and chunky bass. Yeah it sounds awesome, dark and heavy for over 10 minutes ! The drumming is insane during this section. Guitar comes in after 9 minutes. So heavy. I like Part 3 as well, lots of piano and time changes. Fat bass 6 minutes in and then the drums start to get chaotic. A dark and sinister calm follows and builds. Huge bass ! Organ 9 minutes in as drums pound away. Scorching guitar and mayhem follow.

Part 4 is the longest and darkest of the lot. Opening in a sinister fashion, followed by some creepy electronics. A beat 5 1/2 minutes in with pulsating organ a minute later with growly bass. It's getting more powerful until we get that ANEKDOTEN flavour 11 1/2 minutes in with mellotron. Part 5 is dark with so much tension before it eases towards the end and this dark atmosphere takes over. What an amazing experience to listen to this "Five Suns" suite. Not worthy ! "Mictlan" opens with this dark spacey humming before keys and drums come in. Organ after a minute as the tempo picks up. The sound gets pretty violent at times. Killer drumming 2 minutes in.The tempo and mood continues to shift. The final song "Topan" is rather gentle and light, but it too eventually turns to the dark side.

A must for ANEKDOTEN fans, or fans of heavy and dark music with lots of atmosphere and mellotron. This is absolutely brilliant !

Review by Heptade
4 stars Guapo is a band heavily inspired by Magma as well as other dark prog bands (ie Crimson). Five Suns is an impressive slice of zeuhl stripped down to its brutally basic elements- pounding, skittering drums, sledgehammer overdriven bass and sometimes-ethereal, sometimes-shrill keyboards. There is a lot of very scary mellotron on this CD, which is an added bonus. Guapo sticks to the program on Five Suns, with pieces that gradually build up in tension before exploding in a frenzy. To say that this stuff is influenced heavily by Magma's "De Futura" would be an understatement. Fortunately, I personally love that piece, so I don't mind at all. Five Sun is excellently produced, particularly in the intimate but not overpowering drum sounds. If you don't like repetition in your instrumental prog, this won't be for you, but if you like music that is aggressive and cosmic at the same time, and beats you up before taking you to the stars, this one's for you. An excellent band, and we should consider ourselves lucky that these younger musicians want to continue the legacy of this kind of music.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars So far, this is Guapo's maximum musical achievement, in my opinion. "Five Suns" is the album in which the guys of Guapo could decidedly assert that they had accomplished their own voice in contemporary avant-prog. The overall sound developed and crystallized in this album is an energetic confluence of Present-inspired RIO, zheul, modern Crimson, experimental jazz and heavy-oriented psychedelia. Connections with NeBeLNeST and "From Within"-era Anekdoten can also be traced. A tight musical vision and a solid creative direction are quite patent here, actually, so the least one could say about "Five Suns" is that it is an exuberantly excellent opus - some like me would even go as far as to say that it is a prog masterpiece of our times. Smith handles his drumming and percussive duties fluidly through his diverse functions: sustaining a cacophonic passage, delivering jazzy grooves, go wild when things get electrifyingly rocking, etc.... The intensity and groove he provides during the last 3 minutes of 'Five Suns - Part 3' have to be heard to be believed, and perhaps, not even then. His assemblage with bassist Thompson is one of perfect complementation. Keyboardist O'Sullivan makes his input quite versatile: the sounds emanated from the electric piano, mellotron, synthesizers can be mysterious, agile, abrasive, creepy, majestic: pick the mood that's more convenient for a specific passage and there you are. Let's go to the album in itself now. The 5 sections of the main 'Five Suns' concept get the album started. The first section is an intro theme, based on a few aleatory flows that gradually turn into a display of sheer power, chaotically building up to the ultimate explosion: the momentary interruption by a horror movie-like organ brief sequence adds an unexpected bizarreness to the aforesaid explosion, which is finalized by a gong bang. All other four sections are more explicitly articulated, designing challenging yet recognizable passages whose diversity is properly ordained in each unit. Tension is somehow a result of the way in which the musicians interact, but mostly it is the strategy for the conveyance of the musical trend envisioned for this mature Guapo. 'Part 4' is the least disturbing, starting with a languid, calm atmosphere, but eventually the mood gets acid and aggressive. 'Part 5' gives preferential room to autumnal moods, quiet and dense at the same time, in this way relating zheul to post-rock. Track 6 is untitled, and it consists of one minute of silence - why not entitle it 'One Minute of Silence', so the band don't have to pay absurd money to John Cage's heirs? OK; I totally aggress. The last two tracks state less ambitious trends that the ones followed in the parts of the 'Five Suns' concept. They have the unenviable mission of succeeding the master composition, but fortunately, they also are great tracks with lots of inventiveness and stamina. 'Mictlan' delivers a sense of agility mixed with mysterious psychedelic tones (not unlike Matching Mole), in this way creating a rare aura of warmth and intensity. The album's last 6 ˝ minutes are occupied by 'Topan', a piece that initially digs deeper in the jazz aspect than the preceding track did. The emergence of tight pulsations by the rhythm duo and dissonant developments on keyboards makes things quite tense, but there is no intention to elaborate a storming climax. The tension is effectively preserved without reaching an outburst point. It is a peculiar way to end an album whose first 46 minutes were a manifestation of menacing fire. Anyway, like I said before, "Five Suns" is a masterpiece - this is where the essential Guapo sound got a definitive affirmation.
Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Guapo is an interesting find. They sit at the crossroads between Zeuhl and RIO, although I somewhat believe Zeuhl is a subset of RIO. The Zeuhl type of sound is expressed in the deep fabric of the compositions and the repetitveness of the themes. The RIO specs give FIVE SUNS a harder, more obtuse edge.

I can't shake off the notion that this music is pretty close to Magma, although not close enough to be considered a clone. The ''Five Suns'' epic is the main focus here, and rightfully so as it has the most memorable of the themes. The first part is the best as towards the end, it creates noises that make you think your headphones/speaker system is crapping out on you. The drumming takes the cake here although the haunting keyboards and throbbing bass will keep you on notice.

For some reason, Guapo decided to record a couple of extra tracks post the epic. ''Mictlan'' and ''Topan'' are both decently played RIO pieces, but neither really make much of an impact with the title epic thing coming before. There's also a minute of complete silence for no reason. FIVE SUNS is worth the investigation for the big epic as well as a look at possibly a Zeuhl-metal genre thingy.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Guapo's Five Suns is one of the most impressive albums I came to discover in my PA newbie days. Guapo play a very intense kind of instrumental Zeuhl, taking all the fire and impetus of Magma, but stripping the music to a bare skeleton of virulent drums and bass, building imposing layers of electronic effects, rhodes piano and mellotron on top. The result is pitch black, wild, entrancing and unsettling.

Guapo are decisively less jazzy then Magma or Dün but make up for that with a more rocking edge, adding post-rock dynamics, and everything between clean guitar textures and distorted dissonance. So we find ourselves on a meeting point between dark Magma and heavy Crimson, a universe also inhabited by Nebelnest and some of the early Anekdoten.

The bulk of the album is made up by the 45 minute Five Suns suite. It's one continuous piece of thundering bass, commanding drum rhythms and eerie electronics. A masterpiece of musical intensity. After a minute pause, the album concludes with two lighter pieces. Relatively speaking of course, but there's a touch of melodious development on Mitclan and an almost dreamy atmosphere on Topan.

Not suited for everyone's taste, this album could still be a good choice to challenge and shake one's harmonious sensibilities. If you're already into Magma, Crimson, Nebelnest and other examples of dark prog intensity then you obviously already own this one.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars A strangely annoying and quite ugly album. The annoyance is that I think the album would have sounded far better with a few vocals thrown in. The ugly parts are the chord sequences themselves which just seems to grate my brain like nails down a chalkboard. Therefore I'm surprised that I've given this three stars. It's very well produced and does sound quite menacing in parts. The sum is greater than the individual parts and it's far more rewarding listening to the whole thing back to back rather than as individual tracks. 'Five Suns' doesn't really belong under the Zeuhl caregory. If it does - then give me Magma any day. I reckon it should be classed under RIO. Not bad - but I wouldn't go out my way to hear it.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars To my mind (and ears) this is a Zeuhl album if I've ever heard one--and an awesome one, at that! The album starts off with the very cool, rather spacey "Five Suns, Part I" (8/10) which then slides into the amazing (Very ANEKDOTEN-like) "Five Suns, Part II" (10/10) The background synth and wave samples are so cool over the marching drums and driving bass lines. Unfortunately, the bass and drum act grows a little weary on the ears as the album goes on. Parts "III" and "IV" (7/10) maintain a high standard of musicianship and driving force but creativity and inspiration seem to wane a bit--there is little freshness to keep the listener glued, the repeated riffs seem, at times, almost infantile, though the drum and bass playing remains rather emotional. There is a little more jazzy side of GUAPO exposed in the softer parts of these songs. "Part V" is rather anticlimactic (and maybe intentionally so). By the time you move past the five movements of the Five Suns you are ready for something new--and boy do they deliver: a solid minute of virtual silence Ithe sounds I hear may be mechanical) titled "Untitled"!! This is followed by a song that is, IMO, the least interesting and least inspired song of the album, "Mictlan." Luckily, the last song, "Topan," (9/10) is another great one--a more sedate but highly skilled and melodic piece. Something here sounds like the pop jazz and jazz fusion I listened to in the 70s. The keys, I think. Or maybe the whole vibe they have going. Reminds me somehow of NIL's "Dérive." Anyway, this is a very, very good album. Part II is definitely one of my top ten favorite Zeuhl songs.
Review by Warthur
4 stars Sure, the influences of Guapo might be fairly typical for RIO bands - Magma, the mid-1970s incarnation of King Crimson and Univers Zero - but it's the way they bring these influences together on Five Suns which makes it such a fun trip. You have the Magma influence in the deep, pulsating rhythms and the epic song structures (the main event here being a 45 minute track), you have the wild guitar excursions and Mellotron-mania of Red-era King Crimson, and you have the mysterious and frightening aesthetic of Univers Zero, all brought together in an avant-prog attack which will also appeal to many symphonic prog listeners.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I was disappointed by this album but I have to admit it's well performed and well produced. I simply find most of the songs to be dull. The opening five come off as throbbing bass-and-drum-driven background music. Extensive dissonance throughout the album lends a nice ambiance, spacey zeuhl f ... (read more)

Report this review (#1472237) | Posted by chikinn | Saturday, October 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I received this album today from Laser's edge,not knowing much about Guapo.I began to play it this afternoon and I really went far.Five suns is an outstanding track,Mictlan and Topan too:they tell the same story,one of the saddest in the world,throughout this Magma meets KC trip I felt breathless, ... (read more)

Report this review (#178972) | Posted by fusionfreak | Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you like your Zeuhl with a touch of Larks-era King Crimson, then this is the album for you. A recommended pleasurable listening experience, it rocks out more than Magma, and there are even some psychedelic-like extended sections that will work your mind over with the driving rhythms. This i ... (read more)

Report this review (#163169) | Posted by kabright | Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 3.75 stars really It took the French band Present to convince me of the quality of RIO/Avante prog type bands, as I had not gotten much out of others like Univers Zero and Thinking Plague (though I can enjoy some of their material when I'm in the right mood). This album sounded interesting ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#111201) | Posted by | Friday, February 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I purchased this album because these guys are touted as the next Magma, or often compared to the great Zeuhl masters. As someone who has listened to a lot of indie rock in the 90's, I can say these guys are not that great. I would have to say, The Flying Luttenbachers are a much more competant ... (read more)

Report this review (#86465) | Posted by cscrutinizer | Thursday, August 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Add another half star if you like. This band plays the sort of Zeuhl/RIO hybrid that I love. It is heavy and repetitive, and oppressive. If you like Magma, Univers Zero and King Crimson, you should find something you like on this CD. My somewhat lackluster rating of this album is based on ... (read more)

Report this review (#31885) | Posted by | Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Guapo is an english band that is practically insane, in its form of composition, and in its working ethic, a band with a very challenging style, mixing the highly free-form realm of Zeuhl (psychotic dissonance Magma first had the guts to play), RIO (Rock in Opposition, a style that is tremendo ... (read more)

Report this review (#31882) | Posted by Minstrel X | Thursday, August 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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