El Guincho

A Barcelona singer and producer samples the world.

0

Comments

Add +

Pablo Daz-Reixa came of age in the Canary Islands, the paradisial Spanish outpost situated off the northwest coast of Africa. Like some strange E.U. Hawaii, its tropical climate is home to loggerhead turtles, bottlenose dolphins and ruddy British tourists. It was from this environment that Daz-Reixa, echoing ambitious types before him—United States Presidents, Old Testament stars—fled. “If you’re really young or really old, it’s great,” he reasons. “A lot of old Northern Europeans go there, like, to die. They buy a little apartment near the beach and chill because it’s sunny all the time. But if you want to discover new things or meet people who can inspire you, it’s a hard place.”

Daz-Reixa, 26, now lives in Barcelona, hub town of international cool. As El Guincho—a name he shares with an endangered bird found in his homeland—he has recorded some of the smartest party music of recent years. Alegranza! (Young Turks/XL), El Guincho’s 2008 American debut album, is a frenzied blur, presenting the musician chanting in Spanish over a spastic collage of samples drawn from the far reaches of the world. Although it’s often compared to the work of Animal Collective, Alegranza! is intuitively global: the sweaty after-party to M.I.A.’s Kala.

El Guincho’s songs (most recently displayed on Pirates de Sudamrica, an EP of South American covers) tend to be festive and fast. Dance to them, if you must, but beware of cardiac arrest. Yet as with much rowdy work, its roots are distinctly cerebral. Daz-Reixa arrived in Barcelona at 19, lured there not by music but by literature, having won a grant to write a novel. “But the novel I wrote was very, very bad,” he says, speaking by phone from Spain. Hearing the protest of a reporter—it can’t be that lousy—the musician laughs. “It was horrible!” he unhappily exclaims. “Like, muy mala. I think I lost a year of my life to it.”

Having studied music in his youth, Daz-Reixa found himself returning to song, specifically work of the Canaries. “I was homesick,” he says. “I asked my grandma to teach me old songs from the Canary Islands—ones passed down from generation to generation. They sounded a lot like the Peruvian and Venezuelan songs that I had heard on record. That’s when I started investigating.”

The musician delved into Spanish and South American recordings, becoming intrigued by the way artists distorted their source material. He especially reveled in the work of Brazilian singers like Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil. “A lot of those guys were inspired by English and American pop,” Daz-Reixa explains. “But even if they wanted to have that sound, they couldn’t, because their culture is so strong. By accident, they ended up with something completely new.”

Like many young men with bright ideas, the musician toyed with attending graduate school. Specifically, he hoped to move to New York to study ethnomusicology, intending to explore a theory he had hatched about island music. (His notion: “The sad songs are often in major scales, which we usually think of as being uplifting.”)

Daz-Reixa’s research, however, proved too fun for school—as well as for Coconut, the Barcelona rock band he had joined. The seamless blend concocted from his coffer of samples—Cuban doo-wop and Mexican cocktail pop, Trinidad steel drums and Canary Islands standards—accidentally gave rise to El Guincho. Like the songs he had studied, the artist’s own work proves blessedly crooked, as he swallows an array of disparate sounds and regurgitates them into an odd new dish. It’s not exactly world music. Yet it’s unmistakably music of the world.

El Guincho plays Central Park SummerStage (as part of the Latin Alternative Music Conference) and (Le) Poisson Rouge Wed 7.

Buy music by El Guincho on iTunes

More essential Latin Alternative Music Conference shows


Ana Tijoux
Apple Store Soho; Tue 6
Central Park SummerStage; Wed 7
Born to a French mother and a Chilean father waiting out Pinochet in Europe, Ana Tijoux emerged from Santiago’s hip-hop scene as part of the group Makiza. On 1977, her second solo album, Tijoux breezily lays Spanish (and occasionally French) raps over low, mellow grooves meant to evoke the early-’90s hip-hop she digested as a teen. (Tijoux also plays Pianos July 9 and Glasslands Gallery July 10.)—JR


Maldita Vecindad
Central Park SummerStage; July 10
Vibrant, eclectic, socially engaged and punky, Mexico City’s Maldita Vecindad (“damned neighborhood”) was among the seminal acts of the 1980s alterna-Latino revolution. The brash combo faded from view around the turn of the century, but a newly released studio album, Circular Colectivo, shows the band continuing to break ground while forsaking none of its vintage spirit.—Steve Smith


Mexican Institute of Sound
Bowery Ballroom; July 8
Part of a new wave of Mexican electronica acts that also includes the groundbreaking, influential Nortec Collective (playing Central Park SummerStage Wed 7), Mexican Institute of Sound—a.k.a. DJ and producer Camilo Lara—revels in the sunnier side of his native land’s culture with an Esquivel-like mix of futurism and kitsch.—SS

See more recommended shows

Users say