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Saturday, November 08, 2008

EL GUINCHO - Alegranza!

El Guincho is the one-man project of Spanish musician Pablo Díaz-Reixa, a man deeply ensconced in a variety of influences ranging from sun-splashed 60’s harmonies and Afrobeat to Tropicália, dub, exotica and Bhangra, just to name a few. What’s fascinating about Alegranza! though, is how these varying influences are shaken and stirred into a drink of its own unique flavor.

The album kicks off perfectly with the celebratory island anthem “Palmitos Park”. A refreshing burst of tropical delight, the track utilizes a very Martin Denny-esque sample of “oohs” to great effect, creating the most inviting prelude in recent memory. The jubilant “Antillas” quickly follows, keeping the tempo up high in order to reel you in for the far more interesting core of the album; one that many critics have compared to last year’s brilliant Person Pitch LP by Panda Bear. And the similarities indeed exist, particularly the dramatic use of repetition throughout.

Alegranza! is a wildly colorful collage of sample loops, tribal chants, and tropical percussion that plays out like a mind-jangling dream that, at times, numbs the brain into a whimsical trance, but in fleeting moments successfully harnesses a sense of profoundness. The nine-track, 40-minute album is hugely infectious, which is impressive considering how truly bizarre it is. The disc slips further and further into a carnival of sounds and sonic chaos, but somehow remains utterly rhythmic and gorgeous.

On “Kalise”, a steel drum loop queues off a deep tribal beat and an array of repetitious Spanish chants, which ultimately builds up into a constellation of infectious grooves. “Buenos Matrimonios Ahi Fuera” begins with children chanting an innocent lament before sidling up to a jangly mix of percussion. A couple minutes in, the track seamlessly diverts into a strange, but hypnotizing sort of downtempo dub jam. And on tracks like “Costa Paraiso” and “Prez Legarto” the heart of this circus comes a little closer, as Díaz-Reixa reveals a voice that excels in live-looping, a contribution that could easily be overlooked in the barrage of sounds that are at work here.

In all its colorful beauty, Alegranza! is El Guincho’s unmistakable love letter to his birth-land of the Canary Islands. In fact, the title literally refers to a location in the Spanish territory. Though now based in Barcelona, Díaz-Reixa is clearly a romantic for the beautiful locale of his youth, as this is the explosive expression of one man’s unique upbringing in “paradise”.
-Scot Bowman

Originally published at

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