Three years have passed since “Black Oni” (Ipecac Records). Four years since “Five Suns”(Cuneiform Records). The new album by Guapo is finally here and thus concludes the recondite triptych they set out to accomplish. Flux is not uncommon here, every record taking on new musical hues and offering disparate ideas and perspectives. However an upheaval in the line-up, which of recent years has been anchored by the trio of Daniel O’Sullivan, Matthew Thompson and David Smith, triggered a change in course when Thompson left the band just prior to the release of Black Oni in 2005.
In the interim O’Sullivan and Smith have been active with an abundance of other projects. Both members perform in the antique-prog band Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses. O’Sullivan’s work with Æthenor (Vhf Records), Mothlite (Southern Records), Grumbling Fur (Aurora Borealis Records) as well as moonlighting in the live line-up of Sunn O))) has been keeping him extremely busy. Smith created a large scale, multi media installation entitled “The Other Side of the Island” for which he made a soundtrack with O’Sullivan and Antti Uusimaki under The Stargazers Assistant moniker (the recordings of which were released on Aurora Borealis last year). Smith also plays with members of Coil, Cyclobe and Shockheaded Peters in the Amal Gamal Ensemble. Despite these distractions, Guapo has been maintained as a primary focus and “Elixirs” has been three years in the making. It is unequivocally Guapo’s most poignant and powerful work to date.
“It lay quite still; he touched it, it was dead. Accustomed no doubt to a sedentary life, an uneventful existence spent under its humble carapace, it had not been able to support the dazzling splendour imposed on it, the glittering garment in which it had been clad, the pavement of precious stones wherewith they had inlaid its poor back like a jewelled pyx.” J.K. Huysmans (A Rebours, 1884)
The house of the idealist is teeming with the most unlikely of treasures. Fairies, jewelled turtles, lindworms and moon worshipping plants are but a few residents. But in these fragments contain a cognitive universe propelled by an unspoken and unheard pantheon. Guapo give voice to this realm, where the mystical philosophies of Huysmans, Kircher, Conan Doyle, Hyltén-Cavallius and many others are used as facilitators and indeed, guardians for the music conceived on “Elixirs”.
As a result, Elixirs transcends any musical antecedents that Guapo have been acknowledged for in the past. Instead, the music here explores the outer-most regions of psychedelic composition. Flickers of Popol Vuh, This Heat, Magma, Third Ear Band, Moondog and early 70’s Miles Davis are present here as over-arching themes are morphed and mined through serpentine asymmetrical structures. Chiming rounds and canons swim through a sapphirine ocean of polyrhythmic mantra. All sullenly overcast with compositions so mercurial, the paths you can take are infinite. The dense orchestration and finespun virtuosity (seamlessly captured by engineer / producer Antti Uusimaki) create a richness previously hinted at but never fully realized until now. On “Elixirs” Guapo have opened a secret vault of treasures where jewels of sulphurous green and ashen blue blossom dwell. Where springs of fire feverishly burst through a vista of golden chrysoberyls. Let the ceremony commence.