Review : El Guincho - Pop Negro
PitchforkPablo Díaz-Reixa's first full-length as El Guincho, 2007's Alegranza!, predicted the whole chill-obsessed, beach-minded trend that we've been more or less stuck with for two years running now. What made that record so fresh and engaging, though, wasn't its crystal-ball nature; it was Díaz-Reixa's disorienting, drum-heavy style and use of repetition. Sheets of pounding rhythm, joy-packed vocals making every structural shift sound like a parade turning a street corner-- El Guincho knows repetition can be bliss, but he also knows (unlike many of his followers these days) that bliss doesn't have to sound so goddamn boring.
Alegranza!'s formula seemed as if it would benefit from further refinery-- which is why it's more than a little disappointing that Pop Negro, Díaz-Reixa's follow-up, ditches said formula almost entirely. Instead of feeling warm and a little bit lived-in, the songs here sound relatively chilly and fussy. The percussive elements are more conventionally linear-- less a full-on rhythmic assault-- and the song structures are frequently disjointed and fidgety, as if he had trouble in staying in one place for very long.
This new approach ends up working a few times, most successfully on opening track and lead single "Bombay", which carries more than a little bit of a Balearic bounce in the steel drum hits that vibe under Reixa's expressive melodic phrasing. "FM Tan Sexy" embodies at least two of the words in the title (guess which ones) with a taut backbeat and sliding sighs, while "Ghetto Fácil" and "Novias" aim upward with tropical effervescence....full text
NmeFrom the first steel drum thwack and insatiable handclap of opener ‘Bombay’ right through to the ambient serenity of ‘Danza Invinto’, El Guincho (aka Barcelona’s very own Pablo Díaz-Reixa) recalls all the tropicalia and beach-lusting melodies of Animal Collective, Panda Bear and put together. Combining afrobeat, dub and more samba slickness than you can shake a headdress at, the frenzied carnival rhythms of ‘Pop Negro’ will spark a fire in your newly tropical soul that will still be smoldering come next year’s Mardi Gras. Don’t be surprised if you start taking Spanish lessons in the hope of unearthing just what the Hispanic hipster is crowing about....full text
MusicomhSpain's Pablo Diaz-Reixa, aka El Guincho, describes his music as 'space-age exotica'. It's easy to see where he is coming from, given the kitchen sink smash-and-grab raid on world music that Pop Negro involves. There is more than a hint that Diaz-Reixa has absorbed the likes of Tom Ze and Os Mutantes. Yet it is the 'pop' part of the album's ill-advised title that lingers in the mind. Diaz-Reixa is certainly not afraid of walking the tightrope between infectious and irritating. There seems to be as much gleefully ransacked from early '90s dance music as from South American music here - and there is a manic, tartrazine energy that is alternately celebratory and maddening.
The most frequently deployed comparison for El Guincho is the saccharine synaesthesia of Animal Collective. Whilst there is a definite similarity in sound (Diaz-Reixa's vocals bear a strong resemblance to those of Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear), there's less of that group's interest in the avant-garde. The odd time signatures are not a part of El Guincho's musical space (although he does occasionally branch into polyrhythmic territory), neither is the group's earlier preoccupation with feedback and abstraction. He does, however, lift handfuls of their exuberance and childlike whimsy. What Diaz-Reixa offers may, for some, constitute a sugar overdose.
Sometimes this untamed energy and excitement produces gleeful, irresistible results. The fantastic explosion of steel drums and kick drum beats on Bombay provides the album's high point rather early in proceedings, whilst the sunshine pop of (Chica-Oh) Drims is possibly the album's most rhythmically sophisticated moment, rampant with offbeat syncopation. Diaz-Reixa is not one for subtlety and is complely unafraid of clutter. His music is a defiantly happy form of percussive organised chaos....full text
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