[27 October 2008]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
See, this is why Guapo is one of the finest post rock bands to come out of the UK. Three years ago, the well-meaning but tame Black Oni bravely attempted to take the duo’s sound into decidedly grimmer territory, but as a mood piece, after a while it felt more stagnant than anything. Elixirs, on the other hand, is a spellbinding improvement, eclectic, ambitious, and completely enthralling. Daniel O’Sullivan steps up his role significantly, handling all instruments save for David J. Smith’s expressive percussion, and the album benefits hugely from his broadened musical palette. Experimental singer Alexander Tucker and the great Jarboe (she of Swans notoriety) contribute a hypnotic male-female dialogue on “Twisted Stems: The Heliotrope” and “Twisted Stems: The Selenotrope” respectively, while both “The Planks” and “Jeweled Turtle” explore Middle Eastern influences more than ever before, the latter bringing in that Rhodes-dominated, Miles Davis influence yet again. Top marks, though, go to epic tracks “Arthur, Elsie, and Frances” and the brilliant “King Lindorm”, during which O’Sullivan and Smith venture full-bore into 1970s prog, the synth melodies often echoing the chilling style of Dario Argento faves Goblin.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/guapo-elixirs/