El Guincho's debut album Alegranza is as bright as the feathers of the parrot, as sparkly as the fireworks, and as warm as the palm trees that adorn the cover. The music flows like melted butter, twists and turns like a mountain highway, and shimmers like the sun on a scorching summer day. The Spanish producer/singer throws a whole mess of ingredients into the mix, including various strains of world music (like Afro-pop, tango, Spanish folk music), indie pop, techno, and post-rock and sends it spinning into a blurred, whirling rush of sound that never falters.
While recordings by MIA, CSS and Buraka Som Sistema all showcased street sounds from around the world, they still involved American hip hop beats and basslines. El Guincho, aka Canary Island native Pablo Diaz-Reixa, does it differently. The 24-year-old's debut is a tropical soundclash of spiralling steel drums, looped, gnarled local songs and untrammelled joy.
With Manu Chao fast becoming a household name, M.I.A. finally charting and the likes of Vampire Weekend and Panda Bear lacing their music with exotic influences, it's prescient that one-man carnival El Guincho's debut gets a British release. Pablo Diaz Reixa, a native of the Canary Islands, conjures a heady mix of afrobeat, rock'n'roll and tropical hooks from his laptop.
The most interesting moment in Alegranza, a paw-tracked, parrot-plumed pastiche courtesy of Barcelona musician Pablo Díaz-Reixa, comes almost halfway through its 40-minute run, toward the end of “Cuando Maavilla Fui. ” Suddenly, matter-of-factly, in the midst of a sprightly jumble of chanting and guitars and handclaps, enters a sad, languid croon, neither in pitch nor in tempo with the rest of the song. It gets resolved quickly enough, or at least subsumed into the energy of the fading original theme, but it remains arresting for what it is: the first moment of voluntary discord, a piece of genuine complexity in a work whose intricacy is largely superficial.