British instrumental act Guapo, now dwindled down to two members following the departure of their bassist in 2005, have seemed a bit quiet since 2004’s Black Oni. But in truth, they weren’t, recording this album in several different fragments. First, there’s the middle of Elixirs—Twisted Stems. Two tracks taken from a limited release EP in 2006, featuring Alexander Tucker on the “The Heliotrope” and the inimitable Jarboe on “The Selenotrope.” Needless to say, Twisted Stems as an EP just lost some street value, but hey, they’d probably just release them later anyway.
It’s actually the four tracks that wrap around that 14 minute EP to make this full-length that are really interesting, and a departure from Black Oni. It comes on slowly, though. Opener “Jeweled Turtle” gets the record moving (and the artwork, too), but not until about 12 minutes in do you really start to gain something substantial to hold onto. But once you do, well, it’s all over.
That streak continues through the record, and the inclusion of the aforementioned EP in the middle flows quite well with the newer work. As the third part in their loose trilogy with Five Suns and Black Oni, it’s certainly the most realized and gripping listen, and for that, we tip our hats.
In A Word: Formative