It’s ironic that a lot of what was considered progressive in the 70s is still considered such today. I dare you to listen to, say, King Crimson’s Lark’s Tongues in Aspic and tell me that in 2005 we’re beyond that. Hell, I dare you to find a major label that would release a record like that today. If you’re left trying to figure out if groups deemed “progressive” today are anything more than third-rate rip-offs of 70s bands, or just eccentric enough to sound a little different from their contemporaries while playing what essentially amounts to the same thing, then you don’t know where else to look.
Mike Patton’s Ipecac label is as good a place as any to tap into forward thinking music that doesn’t fit snuggly into an indie rock context, and London instrumental trio Guapo’s latest LP is a fine place to start. The second part of a supposed trilogy begun with 2004’s Five Suns, Black Oni is a single piece of music divided into five movements, clocking in at just under 45 minutes. Overall, a Goblin vibe is definitely present, as the music here is very dark and could maybe serve as a score for a horror movie during its more ambient moments. But this is certainly not meant to be background music.
After a tense build up, not unlike something you’d hear from Xenakis, the group moves into a 5/4 groove that becomes a 5/4 to 6/4 march into the second movement, which serves as a good showcase of what we can expect from the trio. The third movement, beginning with a minimalist melodic piano vamp, is the album’s standout track with the group at its most aggressive, reminding me of Egg’s Polite Force. While the fourth movement soundscape employs some electronic tones that would probably blow your dog’s head up, the fifth and final moment shows the band at their darkest and technical best. While this LP might leave some people in the dust, even more will be looking out for the final installment, as well as at this band’s tour itinerary.