Guapo is a British Zeuhl power-trio (and live, also a quartet) which released the album “Black Oni” in 2005. This album came out one year after “Five Suns” got some good reviews on the web, supporting the band on many gigs.
Guapo’s style can be described as a stripped-down MAGMA. Missing from their musical vocabulary is any hint of vocal content, or any kind of semantic quality. Guapo are all about creating a menacing atmosphere by using never-ending brooding violence, theme repetition and unrelenting rhythmic activity. As expected, Fender Rhodes is dominant.
When absorbed live, a Guapo gig can be a lot of dark fun. However, as an independent piece of recorded music, the album is not up there with Zeuhl powerhouses such as MAGMA, KOENJI HYAKKEI, ESKATON and their counterparts. It’s also far from the morbid and tragic creativity of PRESENT or UNIVERS ZERO.
I’ve already mentioned the much-needed vocal element, which is sadly missing from Guapo’s output. Moreover, it seems that the level of composition is still not up to scratch with other European super-groups. Also, Guapo’s sonic palette is a bit narrow, not offering too much besides angry Fender Rhodes and cool guitar effects.
When you put those important reservations aside for a minute, you still get very dark and angry avant-rock for bold listeners. The energy and rage is all there, no doubt about that. More delicate moods are absent, but if you seek wild revenge in the form of frantic prog-fusion, soaked with electric piano and fuzzed bass, you’ve got it all here.
If Guapo wants to get more than 7.5/10 next time, they should try to incorporate more variety in their arrangements and their compositions. Add a vocalist, for prog’s sake; Write up some lyrics; Use some special effects; Add more melocial lines. And make sure you balance that blind fury with some clue of ambivalent optimism. It’s not all black, you see.