Obscure Knowledge

SKU: RUNE404
Label:
Cuneiform Records
Category:
Avant Garde/RIO
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"From Guapo’s origins as an artsy noise-rock duo in the 90s to their current standing as a quartet, founder and drummer Dave Smith has steered clear of cliché and compromise. Albums such as Five Suns (2004), Black Oni (2005) and Elixirs (2008) chronicled the trio incarnation of Guapo’s attempts to define and expand a musical vocabulary rooted in a stripped-back, somewhat aesthetic RIO-style chamber ensemble.

Yet as striking as these albums were, in hindsight they were but a preamble to 2013’s The History Of The Visitation. This marked a significant line-up change that saw Smith and bassist James Sedwards joined by ex-Cardiacs man/future Gongster Kavus Torabi and Chrome Hoof keyboard player Emmett Elvin. It also saw Guapo embrace a more demonstrative, gutsy rock aesthetic.

That boldness continues on Obscure Knowledge, a single, continuous, 43-minute suite. The band’s take-no-prisoners attitude is obvious from the word go. The album opens with a four-note bass motif ascending through a blizzard of cymbals and fractious, sustained keyboard tones. When soaring guitar and circuitous MC Escher-esque organ riffing erupts and takes flight, there are moments where we get the answer to that burning question: what would Mahavishnu Orchestra and Van der Graaf Generator have sounded like if they’d ever joined forces? The suite evolved from the band’s weekly rehearsals wherein each section was slowly accrued from a process of trial and error and selective pruning. This isn’t cerebral jazz-rock; more scarily belligerent minimalism.

After the initial airburst of establishing themes across a Fender Rhodes morse code tapped out by Elvin, Kavus Torabi strikes one ominous guitar chord more than 60 times in the space of five minutes. Wilful and provocative, it’s like a musical dare to see who is going to blink first. With each of those tolling repetitions there comes a sense of escalating pressure and constriction, an expert raising of the temperature inexorably leading to bursting point.

Breaking down and reassembling as each new segment in the piece is introduced, Guapo’s restlessness is only stilled in the midst of some teeth-scraping sonics over halfway through the album. Even here, the fierce drones fluctuating with La Monte Young-style sonic whispers offer little respite.

Unflinchingly adventurous and every bit as brilliant as its predecessor, Obscure Knowledge not only consolidates Guapo’s progress but sets the benchmark by which others can be measured." - Prog

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  • "All albums are important and significant in the life of a band, no matter what the circumstances, but it’s fair to say that some can be regarded as genuine milestones, even game-changers, in that they’ll influence the whole future of the band. In view of what The Reasoning have gone through over the last two years, I think it’s fair to say that ‘Adventures In Neverland’ is going to be one of the most important in the band’s career. For a start, the personnel upheavals since the band’s last album, Adverse Camber, have seen the band slimmed down to a five-piece, and with a new guitarist, Keith Hawkins, to replace Owain Roberts. It’s also the band’s first full length release since signing a deal with the Esoteric Antenna label, so even without the personal issues, there is an awful lot riding on this album for the band.So, back-story aside, what about the music? Opener ‘Hyperdrive’ is something of a statement of intent, as if the band are ready for a full-powered launch into the future. They sound like a band with something to prove, but this really couldn’t be any other band than The Reasoning with Rachel Cohen’s soaring, passionate vocals over backing that has so much going on, it’s really hard to take everything in on one listen. ‘Urgent’ and ‘fast and furious’ haven’t often been phrases used to describe the band, but this really sets out to almost forcibly grab the listener’s attention.Some of the songs on the album have been played live for a while now, such as ‘The Omega Point’. Inspired by the novels of Scarlet Thomas, it references the band’s past work a little more than the opener, but even so it still sounds as if there’s a lot of pent-up energy in the band and there’s some fine soloing by Keith Hawkins and Tony Turrell on keys. Other highlights on the first few listens include ‘Stop The Clock’, with its extended intro almost making you assume the song is an instrumental, until Rachel comes in with the vocal, and there are some previously unheard folky influences that make ‘End of Days’ a particular treat. I should also mention ‘No Friend Of Mine’, a song about the perils of Facebook and Social Networking as a whole. It’s another song that has already been road tested live for several months and as soon as I heard it I thought it to be one of the best things the band has ever done, and I see no reason now to change that particular opinion.Inevitably, there are some who will pore over the album and the lyrics in particular for any references to Owain Roberts, and I suspect ‘Threnody’ (Dictionary definition: ‘a poem, speech or song of lamentation, especially for the dead’) will get particular attention in this respect. I don’t intend to discuss that any further here, suffice to say it’s another very fine song, and it has to be said that throughout this album new boy Keith Hawkins sounds a real find, with some excellent work, including some very nice neo-classical links on ‘Stop The Clock’. Having said that, all the playing and indeed singing, on this record is absolutely out of the top draw. There are some albums you can make your mind up about fairly quickly, but each time I listen to Adventures In Neverland I hear something new to enjoy.The recent Classic Rock Presents Prog Awards, where the band were nominated in the New Blood category, not only brought the legends of the genre into the mainstream spotlight, but also highlighted the absolute wealth of new talent that the scene in the UK can boast. By anybody’s standards, this is a very strong release from a band who more than one commentator has said are ready to break through to the next level, and this could well be the album to take them there." - The Midland Rocks
    $17.00
  • "Esoteric Recordings are proud to announce the release of a newly re-mastered and expanded edition of the classic 1969 album A SALTY DOG by PROCOL HARUM. Released in June 1969, the record followed on from the huge international success of the band’s debut single "A Whiter Shade of Pale” and the follow up single "Homburg” and the superb albums PROCOL HARUM and SHINE ON BRIGHTLY.  One of the finest releases of the era "A Salty Dog” saw the exquisite song writing of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid honed to perfection on highlights such as the album’s title track, "The Devil Came From Kansas”, "Wreck of the Hesperus”, "The Milk of Human Kindness” and more.  Recorded at Abbey Road studios, the album captured the excellence of the musicians in the group, namely Gary Brooker (voice, piano), Robin Trower (lead guitar), David Knights (bass guitar), B.J. Wilson (drums) and Matthew Fisher (Hammond organ).Newly re-mastered from the original tapes, this Deluxe edition of "A Salty Dog” has been expanded to include 12 bonus tracks (5 previously unreleased) over two CDs, including the mono single mix of the title track and its non-album B-side; an early take of ‘The Milk Of Human Kindness’, plus five previously unreleased tracks from BBC Radio sessions from October 1968 & May 1969 along with four live tracks recorded in the USA in April 1969.This expanded deluxe edition of "A Salty Dog” also includes a lavishly illustrated booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Procol Harum biographer Henry Scott-Irvine"
    $19.00
  • The White Ladies was the third album from Trace (now billed as Rick van der Linden and Trace).  Its a conceptual work that is often criticized for the use of narration and vocals, which truth be told can be a bit annoying after awhile.  Overall the playing is top notch with plenty of van der Linden's trademark keyboard pyrotechnics.  This new edition comes with 13 previously unreleased demo tracks.
    $16.00
  • Second album from this outstanding new Italian band performing in the "Rock Progressivo Italiano" style.  Their debut La Crudelta Di Aprile blew me away and this new one is coming on like a sledgehammer.  The quartet is led by keyboardist Emanuele Tarasconi who pulls all kinds of vintage keys out of the closet.  Guitars figure a bit more prominently this time around and again there is a guest violinist.  The focal point tends to always drift back to Tarasconi's keys which have a style that reminds of Toni Pagliuca's work with Le Orme.  There are Italian vocals on the album but there are really long stretches of instrumental passages to the point that the vocals are inconsequential.  If you liked their first album you are going to love this one.  BUY OR DIE! 
    $16.00
  • "Always fond of conceptual storytelling, Ian Anderson goes himself one better with his latest prog-folk-metal concept album. The 15 songs of Homo Erraticus inhabit not one but two metafictional layers. The Gerald Bostock character, hero/anti-hero of the seminal Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick and its recent sequel Thick as a Brick 2, is back again, having now discovered a manuscript left behind in the 1920s by a malaria-ridden old British soldier delightfully named Ernest T. Parritt.Parritt's supposed writings range over northern European history from the Mesolithic era to his own - and on into his future, through the whole 20th century and into our own time and beyond. Winnowed into lyrics written by "Bostock" and set to music by the real protagonist of the story, Ian Anderson, these materials give Anderson - whose creative scope and energy remain robust even as his singing voice has thinned with age - a walk-in-closetful of pegs on which to hang a sequence of songs evoking nothing less than the history of mankind in his part of the world.The first track, "Doggerland," commemorates the area of the southern North Sea that used to be dry land connecting today's British Isles with the rest of Europe. Doggerland vanished under the waves as the last Ice Age ended but, as fisherman discovered not long ago, the sea floor retains much archeological evidence of human occupation. The succeeding songs address migrations, metalworking, invasions (from the Romans to Burger King), the arrival of Christianity, the Industrial Revolution, and so on. To appreciate the songs, you'll want to (at least once) follow along with the notes and lyrics in the accompanying 32-page booklet.The Foreword, in which Anderson discusses the history of Jethro Tull and why he hasn't used the band name for his last few recordings, will especially interest longtime Tull fans. The real question is, will the songs themselves? Some yes, some no. The gruff metal of "Doggerland" gives way to the sweet, plinking folk of "Heavy Metals." (I imagine Anderson chuckling to himself at the irony - no pun intended - of creating such a gentle-sounding song with that title, and on that literal topic.) Both satisfy my Tull craving. "Meliora Sequamur" (Let Us Follow Better Things), which paints a picture of 12th century schoolboys amid religious chant (and cant), does too, and "The Turnpike Inn" is a solid rocker, and the hard-Celtic style of "The Engineer" moves briskly.I like the instrumental track "Tripudium ad Bellum" (Dancing to War). It starts off with an echo of a theme from the original Thick as a Brick (there are others elsewhere on the album), then resolves into a 5/4 march, like a more insistent "Living in the Past." War's aftermath appears in the next track, the sad, deliberate "After These Wars," in which I really feel the lack of Anderson's full-strength vocals. While he was never among rock's greatest singers, that didn't matter - when he sang his songs, you always felt he was all there, and that's what mattered. But now, and not only in the harder songs that shade into old-school heavy metal, his voice just isn't always a match for his music's energy any more.On the other hand, his gift for crafting pleasing, original melodies, writing smart, clever lyrics in complete sentences and true rhyme, and setting much of it in non-traditional time signatures remains strong. The first verse of "After These Wars" reads:After battle, with wounds to lick andbeaus and belles all reuniting.Rationing, austerity: it did us good after the fighting.Now, time to bid some fond farewells andwalk away from empires crumbling.Post-war baby-boom to fuel with post-Victorian half-dressed fumbling.No one in pop music writes like that anymore.Listening to the album as a complete conceptual work, my overall feeling is that there isn't very much new here. Since the 1960s Anderson and Tull have explored countless different musical paths and styles. Some of these produced some of my all-time favorite songs and recordings. Others I hated. But he never seemed to be resting on his laurels. Here I feel like I'm reading a chapter that's not much different from the last chapter.But listening to the songs individually, I like a lot of them. As I write this I'm trying to count the beats of the off-time closer, "Cold Dead Reckoning," with its grim imagery of a future of lost souls navigating their way over a metaphysical Doggerland "amongst the ranks and files of walking dead." I hear crunching minor-key guitar-bass-piano unison figures, a sprightly flute solo. A hopeful verse about "angels watching over" at the end doesn't convince me, as the music continues to growl on as before. Yet there follow a sweet, gentle instrumental coda, reminded us that while things may not turn out well for humanity as we teem over and ruin our only planet, our capacity to create and to appreciate beauty will be with us as long as we live. So let's raise the cup of crimson wonder to Ian Anderson as he charges not-so-gently through his seventh decade." - Seattle Pi
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  • "My first experience with Edge Of Paradise dates to 2011. I've listened to a lot of music since then, so my recollection is a little cloudy. That may be a good thing as I approach the band's first full-length album, Immortal Waltz, now signed to Germany's Pure Rock Records.Largely what I do recall is that the focus of Edge Of Paradise revolves around guitarist Dave Bates and vocalist Margarita Monet. He works with layers of dense sharp riffs coupled with leads that vary from neo-classical to pure rock. Monet has a nearly Olympic vocal approach. She's not one of those operatic singers. Yet she can voice the same, along with rock to something more atmospheric and ethereal. For the music EoP works from the base melodic heavy metal infused with a rock groove, and then adds the former elements for this large bombastic presentation. To be fair, four of the songs are from the Perfect Shade of Black EP released in October 2014: the title track, In A Dream, Ghost, and Break Away. But unless you have that EP, this tidbit matters little. The band also covers the Sabbath song, Children of the Sea, with some success.There's a lot to like about this album, simply because of the Bates/Monet approach to songwriting. I can honestly say I enjoyed every song here, thanks to the ease which heaviness and groove are blended together. Yet several songs stood out more than others. First, there's the pair of It's My Show and Immortal Waltz where EoP brings this feeling of theater, possibly some side show, and a little burlesque to their sound. The latter song may even suggest a waltz theme or motif to your ears. Another fine tune is In A Dream, which has this combination of riff density and soaring atmosphere thanks to the vocals.Also, a favorite was Ghost; it's not unlike In A Dream, but more ethereal at the start, only to become massive in riffage in crescendo. Finally, Rise For The Fallen, an anthem of sorts, seemed the song with most groove with Bates' riffs blasting throughout. But this song, like so many others here, displays the chink in the EoP's armor. For all her vocal calisthenics, Monet is difficult to understand. Her voice and style certainly compliment the EoP sound, but you'll want to have the lyrics handy if you want do understand anything she sings. Nevertheless, and overall, Edge Of Paradise's Immortal Waltz is interesting and entertaining melodic heavy metal that will keep you listening. Recommended." - Dangerdog.com
    $15.00
  • AdC is the third album from this incendiary Italian fusion quartet.  The previous two albums were a bit more off the wall, bearing some overtones of Deus Ex Machina.  They've toned that aspect of their sound way down.  Mahavishnu Orchestra is an obvious influence but it seems that this time around the band has crafted something that is more of an individual sound - not a copycat band.  The album seems to have just the slightest bit more agression than in the past ie. more energy - not metal.  Cool proggy vibe throughout as well as beatiful frenetic soloing and interplay.  Highly recommended.
    $18.00
  • One and done hard rock band from Newcastle released their sole album on B&C Records back in 1971.  Guitar, bass, and drums with some guest keys lurking in spots.  This will appeal to fans of Clear Blue Sky, May Blitz and their ilk.  Their are some prog moves here and there but really hard rock is their raison detre.  Perhaps a bit dated in sound but these guys were actually pretty good.  Esoteric gives them the deluxe treatment.
    $17.00
  • Its been four years since this British ensemble's debut album.  Been a long time coming but there have been a number of personnel changes in the band.  Founding members Alex Crispin (vox/keys) and bassist Dan Pomlett left the band, while guitarist Nicholas Richards switched over to bass.  While the band went through a state of flux their core sound didn't really change a hell of a lot.  Yeah maybe its pared down a bit but it is still steeped in the sounds of the early 70s.  Mellotron, organ and reeds abound.  Guitar is a bit more dominant but still with that retro Vertigo vibe.  Vocals only appear on one track and they are OK.  Think in terms of an instrumental VDGG in a massive jam session with members of Soft Machine and Eloy.  As if!  I will be hard pressed to come across a better progressive rock album released in 2012.  BUY OR DIE!
    $13.00
  • "Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce a new edition of the classic 1973 album THE MACHINE THAT CRIED by STRING DRIVEN THING – re-mastered from the original Charisma Records master tapes.Formed in Glasgow in 1967 around the husband and wife CHRIS ADAMS and PAULINE ADAMS and JOHN MANNION, by 1972 the band had moved from their purely folk roots and had signed to CHARISMA RECORDS, recording their self-titled album for the label with new members GRAHAM SMITH (violin) and COLIN WILSON (bass, guitar). For their 1973 album, THE MACHINE THAT CRIED, the band was expanded further by the addition of drummer BILLY FAIRLEY. This record was arguably the finest ever released by the band, featuring such classics as ‘HEARTFEEDER’, the album’s title track and ‘SOLD DOWN THE RIVER’.This Esoteric Recordings reissue has been newly re-mastered from the original CHARISMA RECORDS master tapes and features two bonus tracks drawn from the band’s 1973 single and a booklet that fully restores all original album artwork with a new essay."
    $17.00
  • Sound Of Contact is a new band put together by Simon Collins and session keyboardist Dave Kerzner.  Yeah - Simon is Phil's son.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree - Simon plays drums and he also sings.  His voice is eerily like his dad.  At times virtually indistinguishable.  The music follows a similar path to Phil's work with Genesis and solo.  Parts of the album are pure prog - in fact the album closes with a killer 19 minute epic called "Mobius Slip".  Other parts of the album exhibit a poppier more commercial side.  I don't think of the album as a pop album - its a prog rock album.  Kerzner provides some very interesting keyboard work - lots of intricacies through out the album.  There is that commercial element that reminds me of Genesis in the 80s.  With his voice sounding so much like his father, Simon will always be cursed with being compared to Phil.  That's a fact.  Overall I think he's come up with an interesting album that fans of more contemporary progressive rock will enjoy.
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  • The Yes Album is the second in a series of remixed and expanded Yes albums.Presented in a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve (with protective inner sleeves) with booklet featuring new sleeve notes by Sid Smith, along with rare photos and archive material, the album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson and is fully approved by Yes.The CD features a new stereo album mix by Steven Wilson, the studio version of Clap and an extended version of A Venture.The blu-ray features:- 5.1 PCM Surround Sound and High Resolution Stereo mixes (24bit 96khz).- the original album mix in a hi-res flat transfer from the original stereo master tape source (24bit/192khz).- a complete alternate album running order drawn from live tracks, singles edits & an extended mix.- exclusive instrumental versions of all new mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (24bit/96khz).- exclusive needle-drop of an original UK vinyl A1/B1 pressing transferred in 24bit/96khz audio.The ultimate way to enjoy the album that helped establish Yes's reputation as a creative force to be reckoned with.CD - New Stereo Mixes:1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeAdditional Tracks:7. Clap (Studio Version)8. A Venture (Extended)Blu-Ray (Region 0, NTSC):Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio- Album mixed in 5.1 Surround- New Album mix- Original Album mix (flat transfer)- New Album mix (instrumental version)- Alternate version of The Yes Album drawn from live tracks, singles edits & an extended mixPlus further audio extras some exclusive to the Blu-Ray edition.NTSC, all regions, LPCM playable in all Blu-Ray players & Blu-Ray drivesBlu-Ray - Full Track Listing:New Stereo Mixes 24/96 MLP Lossless:1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeSurround Mixes (24/96 MLP Lossless):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeOriginal Stereo Mixes (Flat Transfer from original master 24/96 MLP Lossless):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeAdditional Material:The Alternate Album :1. Yours Is No Disgrace (Live, London 1971)2. Clap (Studio Version)3. Starship Trooper (single edit)Life seeker4. I've Seen All Good People (Live, London 1971)5. A Venture (extended mix)6. Perpetual Change (Live, New Haven 1971)Blu-Ray Exclusive:Single versions, edits & live:1. Your Move - single version, stereo2. Clap - single version, mono3. America - Live, London 19714. It's Love - Live, London 19715. Your Move - single version, monoNew Stereo Instrumental Mixes (24/96 LPCM):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual ChangeNeedle-drop (A1/B1 UK vinyl transfer 24/96 LPCM):Original stereo, archived master transfer (Flat Transfer 24/96 LPCM):1. Yours Is No Disgrace2. Clap3. Starship Trooper: Life Seeker / Disillusion / Wurm4. I've Seen All Good People: Your Move / All Good People5. A Venture6. Perpetual Change 
    $25.00
  • "2 CD ANTHOLOGY BY THE LEGENDARY PROGRESSIVE ROCK GROUP CRESSIDA24 TRACKS REMASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL TAPES FEATURING EVERY TRACK FROM THE BAND’S TWO ALBUMS RECORDED FOR THE LEGENDARY VERTIGO LABEL BETWEEN 1970 & 1971WITH FIVE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED TRACKS – INCLUDING TWO FROM A 1970 BBC SESSION, TWO UNRELEASED DEMOS AND AN UNRELEASED SINGLE TRACK BOOKLET WITH FULLY RESTORED ARTWORK, RARE PHOTOGRAPHS & ESSAY. Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce a 2CD ANTHOLOGY by the legendary Progressive Rock group CRESSIDA. One of the finest groups to sign to the legendary VERTIGO label in 1969, CRESSIDA’s unique Progressive Rock style earned them a loyal fan base in the early 1970s, with their legend growing over the ensuing decades and their followers growing, with notable aficionados including MICHEAL AKERFELDT of the band OPETH. The roots of Cressida were sown in March 1968, when guitarist John Heyworth answered an advertisement in Melody Maker, and later travelled to London to join The Dominators. With vocalist Angus Cullen he settled down to some serious writing, eventually welcoming bassist Kevin McCarthy and drummer Iain Clark to the fold and now calling themselves Charge. In 1969, shortly after returning from a German tour, the band's organist Lol Coker decided to leave, and moved back to Liverpool to marry his Swiss girlfriend and take over his father's business. He had stayed just long enough to play on the band's first demo, which got them a recording contract with Vertigo Records. Peter Jennings then joined. At this point the band settled on the name Cressida. Their first gigs as Cressida were in Germany, including the Star-Club in Hamburg sharing the bill with Colosseum and East Of Eden, in the Autumn of 1969.The band’s self-titled debut album was recorded at Wessex Studios with Ossie Byrne producing, and was one of the earliest releases on Vertigo. Cressida went through a difficult phase when Heyworth was forced to leave in early 1970. He was replaced by John Culley. The new line-up recorded Cressida's second LP, Asylum, later in 1970 (again with Byrne producing, and with orchestral arrangements by Graeme Hall), but it was released pos-thumously in 1971, the band having broken up in September 1970. Noted jazz flautist Harold McNair guested on the song "Lisa" from the album. Heyworth sadly died in January 2010, but in 2011, three of the four surviving original members of the band, Angus Cullen, Iain Clark, and Kevin McCarthy got together again with Peter Jennings. This anthology has been compiled by the group themselves and is a fine tribute to an inspiring band and has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes, and features a booklet with new essay."
    $21.00
  • When the vinyl came in I proclaimed this as one of the frontrunners for album of the year and nothing has changed since.  Stunning album.Agusa is an instrumental quartet from Sweden.  The band is derived from members of Sveriges Kommuner & Landsting, Kama Loka and Hoofoot.  This is a VERY retro sounding album that will appeal to fans of Kebnekajse, Pink Floyd, and perhaps even Anglagard.  No symphonic elements - just straight up organ, guitar, bass, and drums ripping it up over four long tracks.  Very dynamic sounds going on - shimmering echoey guitar leads that will remind you of Kenny Håkanson or Achim Reichel battling it out with undercurrents of organ that erupt into solos.  Overarching the music is a mystical psychedelic vibe - like this whole thing was cooked up in an Arab hashish den.  BUY OR DIE!!
    $15.00