Guapo – Elixirs from R.I.O

Guapo is a British experimental rock band formed by drummer Dave Smith and guitarist/vocalist Matt Thompson, joined by Guy Siddle also known as “Pid” they released their first CD “Towers Open Fire” in 1997. The album is sophisticated hardcore/punk, quite interesting, but not really symptomatic of the Guapo that I’m writing about today.

The first major step away from their Hardcore/Noise rock came with the album “Great Sage, Equal Of Heaven” (2000) taking the band into avant-garde rock territory. At this point “Pid” was no longer in the band but the album features free music improviser and saxophonist Caroline Kraabel.

On “Perfect Blue” Caroline Kraabel’s partner John Edwards plays Double Bass.

Another major development was the addition of multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan, later know to have joined Norwegian experimental band Ulver in 2011.

Daniel O’Sullivan joined Guapo ‎for Five Suns released in 2004, adding Guitar, Organ,  Electric Piano (Fender Rhodes), Mellotron, Harmonium, Electronics. There was no woodwind instruments on this album.

What we got now is basically a power trio creating music that point in the direction of a mid-70’s instrumental prog rock. The inspiration is clearly King Crimson and the better 1970’s Jazz Rock albums, but that said Guapo finds their own unique style to make the journey interesting and not just a celebration of past times.

Most of the album is the title track, one long epic (the first 46 minute) split into 5 parts.

The trio made another album Black Oni (2005) but after that founding member Matt Thompson left. Guapo continued as a duo.

They released the next album Elixirs in 2008, besides some vocal the only guest was German Actor, Violinist and Viola player Sara Hubrich. Playing on the first track “Jeweled Turtle”

The direction of this album is less aggressive, we now got a slower atmospheric sound, leaving an overall dreamy, mystic and spiritual impression, although the album also explores harder styles and even a bit of Zappa’ish sounding passages.

When the “Rock in Opposition” festivals reappeared in 2008 and 2009 headlined by avant-garde names like Magma, Faust, Kōenji Hyakkei, Present and Univers Zero, Guapo was invited and have also played on several later editions of the French avant-garde festival.

Guapo continued with shifting lineup all the way up to present day, releasing albums in 2013 and 2015, sadly I do not know those albums and can’t comment on them, the band was playing on the The 10th Rock in Opposition festival September 2017.

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