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Guapo is a British experimental rock/art rock band formed in the mid-1990s by drummer/percussionist Dave Smith and guitarist/vocalist Matt Thompson, though the band gained a wider audience with the contribution of multi-instrumentalist Daniel O'Sullivan. The current lineup consists of Smith, guitarist Kavus Torabi, bassist James Sedwards and keyboardist Emmett Elvin of Chrome Hoof.
The Guapo album Elixirs concludes a recondite trilogy of recordings initiated by Five Suns (2003) and Black Oni (2004), which has been referred to as the "Empire Strikes Back" record. Every record takes on new musical hues and offers disparate ideas and perspectives. However, an upheaval in the line-up, which of recent years had been anchored by the trio of Daniel O'Sullivan, Matthew Thompson, and David Smith, triggered a change in course when Thompson left the band in 2005.
Both Smith and O'Sullivan perform in the antique-prog band Miasma & the Carousel of Headless Horses. 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 Shock Headed 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.
Following the departure of Thompson, O’Sullivan and Smith added two London musicians to the fold, James Sedwards (of avant-rock band Nought) and Kavus Torabi (of Cardiacs, Knifeworld and formerly The Monsoon Bassoon). The line-up toured the US in 2006 with synth-prog band, Zombi. O'Sullivan recently left the band to concentrate on other projects (Æthenor (Vhf Records), Mothlite (Southern Records), Grumbling Fur as well as moonlighting in the live line-up of Sunn O)))) and keyboardist Emmett Elvin recently joined. More recently Sam Warren (Tunguska Butterfly, Thumpermonkey) has joined on bass.
"Guapo have conjured a harrowingly complex and unflinchingly epic piece of work. Heady and hypnotic, driving and relentless, tumultuous and visceral, sonic and serene, the sheer odyssey that is Black Oni encompasses many paradoxes in its massively dynamic scope. Picking up where they left off from their previous Cuneiform Records release Five Suns (2002), the band continue to expand on their palette of dexterous chamber-rock anomalies, modal transcendence, and apocalyptic death marches, and like its predecessor, Black Oni is one singular piece of music, making it the second record in a trilogy of large-scale symphonic forms. Incorporating elements of prog, avant-garde jazz, kraut-rock, minimalism and a range of folk mediums from Britain to Indonesia, Guapo take their queue from a disparate array of influences including Magma, King Crimson, Boredoms, Goblin, Sun Ra, Charlemagne Palestine, Univers Zero, This Heat, Olivier Messiaen and Popol Vuh. The assembly of Dave Smith's explosive drum assaults, Matt Thompson's brazen and prowling bass throb, and Daniel O'Sullivan's ethereal keyboard reveries telepathically collide in an augury of rich and cinematic musical ceremony. Black Oni is Guapo's most monumentally unreserved offering to date."
- 1997 Towers Open Fire CD (Power Tool Records)
- 1998 Hirohito CD (Pandemonium Records)
- 2001 Great Sage, Equal of Heaven CD (Pandemonium/Tumult)
- 2004 Five Suns CD (Cuneiform Records)
- 2005 Black Oni CD (Ipecac Recordings) – produced by Jaime Gomez Arellano (limited-edition LP version released 2007 on Hlava Records)
- 2008 Elixirs CD (Neurot Recordings)
- 2013 History of the Visitation CD + DVD (Cuneiform Records)
- 2015 Obscure Knowledge (Cuneiform Records)
EPs and singles
- 1995 Hell is Other People EP (Power Tool Records)
- 1996 Guapo is No More EP (Power Tool Records)
- 1997 Horse Walks Into a Bar EP (Power Tool Records)
- 1998 Guapo vs. Magma EP (Pandemonium Records)
- 2006 Twisted Stems limited edition 7" single (Dot Dot Dot Music)
- 2006 Twisted Stems CDEP (Aurora Borealis)
- 2000 Death Seed CD (Freeland Records)
with Cerberus Shoal
- 2003 The Ducks and Drakes of Guapo and Cerberus Shoal CD (North East Indie Records)