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Tuesday night El Guincho (aka Pablo Diaz-Reixa of Barcelona, Spain) makes his Chicago debut at the Empty Bottle--he was originally scheduled to perform at Pitchfork this past summer but canceled due to "personal issues." His debut album, Alegranza, was recently released internationally on XL/Young Turks, but even though I first heard it many months ago I'm still not sure what the big deal is.
Using a basic Akai MPC, Diaz-Reixa crafts clattery, propulsive assemblages from terse looped samples of international sounds, then sings a simple melody on top. He's not a particularly gripping vocalist, and his melodies often sound derivative of whatever sample he's riffing over--a driving guitar lick from Kenyan soukous band Super Mazembe, for instance, or hooks from Los Gofiones, a pop band from the Canary Islands, where Diaz-Reixa was born.
Taken in small doses the music is occasionally pretty infectious--I especially like the bits where he pours on the tropical vibes or hijacks some Pakistani qawwali with amped-up hand claps--but over the course of the album his MO gets tedious. The songs rarely go anywhere, and even when Diaz-Reixa sings both a verse and a chorus, he doesn't bother crafting different instrumental sections to complement them. I actually think he's hit upon something worthwhile here, but he hasn't learned to make the most of it--when he teaches himself to write real songs instead of relying so heavily on repetition, he'll be a lot closer to realizing his potential.
Brian Eno, Before and After Science (Astralwerks)
Elephant9, Dodovoodoo (Rune Grammofon)
Fredrik Nordström Quintet, Live in Coimbra (Clean Feed)
Robert Forster, The Evangelist (Yep Roc)
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Real Emotional Trash (Matador)