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Published: 2008/12/08
by Fady Khalil

Alegranza! – El Guincho

Most music is created with conscious intent, safely fabricated as to remove all sharp edges threatening abrasion. Sometimes though, it finds liberation in spite of this consciousness, implicitly guarded against voices of the nebulous “them” who perpetually menace those that dare resist a forced conformity. Bricked in by the innumerable fixed eyes and listening ears to all things said or thought, ironically, it’s the subtle, disarming lull of music’s intoxication that can, at times, create fissure in these ramparts great enough for an Alegranza! to come into existence.

To grasp the mind-chatter of Pablo D-Reixa, better known as El Guincho, throughout his studied kata of sound and sampling perhaps demands a careful mind, capable of deciphering the countless nuances of Spanish language and culture, but certain things seem plain such as the degree of which Alegranza! is divorced from any familiar sonic reality. Album opener “Palmitos Park,” as all nine songs in the project, finds unending chants of calypso-laden, Afro-beat undulations in a convulsive dance with rhythmic and/or arrhythmic samples and maniacally rigid drum beats, periodically interrupted by brief unregulated segments of what can be best articulated as dissimilar music with or without sporadic live and/or sampled guitar. Believe me, the music makes even less sense than its description.

With nothing that remotely resembles the familiar structures of song, but more aptly behaves as a soundscape, a dissected slice of auditory experience that could discreetly begin or end anywhere with no consequence to listener, “Antillas” continues the carnival of musical oddity with its buoyant and unbroken melody, perpetually repeating to the point of lapping itself into a state of frenzy sure to induce many into checking their CD player to ensure its proper functioning.

“Cuando Maavilla Fui” seems to have the greatest bearing on conventional music, with a beat ready-made for battles of spoken word held on city streets the world over. Possessing an urban grittiness the song is by far the most aggressive, brandishing El Guincho’s dub, trip-hop fangs, excepting that is of course, the final seconds in which a polka breaks up the party. I didn’t see that coming either.

Though oft-noted, a warranted comparison to Animal Collective neglects to point out that in El Guincho resides a manifest investment of energy towards inducing gyration at all costs that Animal Collective channel instead into proper songs. It's exactly in this end that Alegranza! reveals its greatness. The complete deconstruction of all things familiar to one’s ears acts as purging, lulling often rigid psyches into leaving safely constructed societal norms to instead experience a nearly tribal catharsis, the sonic embodiment of a Burning Man festival. The arbitrary, angular transitions of “Kalise” from jubilance to melancholy or absurd construction of “Polca Mazurca” with its talk-singing and jack-in-the-box-like melody creates an ideal state for a severing with the civilization of our minds. It allows, instead, primal thought to take hold, in short, letting you howl at the moon like no one was looking. It’s not in understanding the music, but in letting go of the need to understand it or anything for that matter, that El Guincho succeeds. In this end, the strange seems increasingly rational, the insane completely logical.

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