El Guincho Piratas De Sudamérica Vol. 1 [EP]

[Young Turks; 2010]

Styles: tropicalia, calypso
Others: Mighty Sparrow, Os Mutantes, Panda Bear

Pablo Díaz-Reixa, a.k.a. El Gunicho, is Spain’s musical ambassador. Last year, the Spanish cultural attaché arranged his tour through Ghana, performing shows with local MCs. Sounds like rather rash governmental policy, but what better way to get the kids down with Spanish culture? El Guincho updates traditionalism, hauling Spanish and Latin Folk into a modern age via a series of silky Caribbean samples. Yet despite wearing his influences with pride, the man doesn’t emit so much as a whiff of plagiarism.

All this might explain Díaz-Reixa’s decision to kickstart the Piratas De Sudamérica EP series, in which he reworks traditional South American classics, some of which have been handed through generations and honed to perfection. It’s fitting for a man so evidently in love with Latin culture and so clearly a music nerd. In an interview in The Fader, he baffled his interviewer with dense knowledge of the use of reverb by Frank Sinatra and the exact panning techniques used by Martin Denny. This is a man who bathes in musical knowledge, and there is the sense that these reworks are in safe hands.

The EP flourishes with saccharine samples of steel drums, tightly-plucked guitar, and all manner of shakers, which are all branded with El Gunicho’s production style to emerge slightly weather-worn, with even more character and a touch of Os Mutantes psychedelia. To add to the authenticity, Díaz-Reixa somehow tracked down Julieta Venegas, a Mexican pop superstar who holds a Grammy to her name. She sings in joyous union with Díaz-Reixa for Cuban Triva band standard “Meintes,” a song stuffed with major chords and kabasa.

When Díaz-Reixa took this project on, there were two main dangers: one, that it would sound like a cheap imitation of the originals, and two, that it would sound nothing like the originals at all. But with Piratas, El Guincho treats every song with a humble respect, daintily intersecting each with his own signature sound. The result plays like a healthy rummage through the dusty record collection of someone hopelessly devoted to their musical roots.

Links: El Guincho - Young Turks

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