Friday, November 6, 2009

Twisted Stems 7" - Guapo (#2, 2006)

Guapo is a British experimental band, direct descendents from the outsider prog of Magma. They also count krautrock, soundtracks, jazz, minimalism, and 20th century classical composers among their influences. Capable of stirring up a noisy racket, sometimes they settle down into an ambient mood.

"The Heliotrope" from Twisted Stems 7" (2006)

Zeuhl... Rock in Opposition... we'll get to them in due time. Guapo follows in a proud tradition of certain iconoclastic anti-star rock-ish collectives of the '70s. I found out about them through AEthenor... we'll get to them eventually. And I think I found them through Atilla Csihar and Sunn O))). So maybe that defines the avant space Guapo inhabits, maybe not. I heard that Twisted Stems 7" was excellent and rare, so I grabbed it when I had a chance. Seems like it's not typical of their sound, but it's definitely excellent.

Both songs are available on the Elixirs cd (2008), and both are heavy with smokey ambience. "The Heliotrope" partly with a dark piano lounge blur, partly with a chiming Oriental, opium-den buzz. The pace somewhere between leisurely and stationary, the tone gloomy and mysterious. "The Selenotrope" similarly transports mellow jazz into exotic locales, somewhere incense wafts through spare shafts of light and temple gongs peel quietly against bare stone walls. The percussive sounds are key to both tunes, almost a lead instrument at times. And despite long stretches of repeated piano figures, there's a lot of variety - with different instrumentation subtly shifting in and out. At the end, there's even some muted, subterranean vocal frenzy. Restrained frenzy, of course...

"The Selenotrope" from Twisted Stems 7" (2006)

Twisted Stems
Official -
Myspace -
Purchase - On Elixirs from Neurot Recordings
iTunes - Guapo

Genre - Contemporary Avant-Zeuhl
Review - Tiny Mixtapes

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