Guapo Five Suns

[Cuneiform; 2004]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: progressive rock, avant-prog, experimental rock, doom metal
Others: Mr. Bungle, King Crimson, Circle, Fantomas, Magma

If you were to ask me what my favorite musical instrument is, I'd have to say it's the steel guitar. And if you were to ask me what my second favorite instrument is, I'd proclaim the Fender Rhodes as a very close second. Both of these instruments have some of the most distinctive qualities of sound and both have the ability to add rich textures to any song. Coincidentally enough, Five Suns is an album that is highly occupied by a Fender Rhodes and many layers of reverberating drones. So, when I heard the first few moments of Five Suns, the most recent release from Guapo, you could say I was pretty happy. It has an amazing sadistic quality that never ceases to deliver, but it can also become a little monotonous when it wants to.

The three members of this British ensemble have mastered the art of constructing very complex art rock. It becomes immediately apparent that there is something swelling underneath every one of these songs. As with a lot of psychedelic albums, Five Suns focuses on long tracks that take many twists and turns throughout their duration. Guapo actually does a great job at assisting these transitions with meticulous velocity and precise timing. In all honesty, though, the best moments here are when things are slowed down and allowed room to focus on the subtle arrangements rather than taking it too far with walls of sound.

This is particularly true in the case of "Five Suns, pt. 3," with its intermission-like jazz session. It's actually one of the only periods on the album when you feel like you can just take the music in with the smallest amount of effort. However, after the intermission track, which plays absolutely nothing but silence for an entire minute, the album finishes with the two best songs, "Mictlan" and "Topan." Both of these songs seem to take on a whole new character, even though they fit into the same basic mold as their predecessors.

So, I guess I'm not really sure what's holding me back from truly loving Five Suns. It has just about everything I could possibly want from a prog-rock album. I somehow just start to fade in and out of consciousness as the album progresses. Perhaps it's the simple fact that Guapo's basic formula doesn't change as often as it could. Perhaps it's the fact that the musical colors slowly run together to form an imperfect palate. Or perhaps it's just the simple fact that too much of a good thing can sometimes have a negative effect in the long run. At the end of the day, Five Suns is the absolute best "average" album on the planet.

1. Five Suns, pt. 1
2. Five Suns, pt. 2
3. Five Suns, pt. 3
4. Five Suns, pt. 4
5. Five Suns, pt. 5
6. Untitled
7. Mictlan
8. Topan

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