Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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EL GUINCHO
Alegranza
XL

This Spanish mix master, born Pablo Díaz-Reixa, travels the globe from inside his studio.

As the magnet city of hip European youth, Barcelona prides itself on its multicultural music--North-African cafe combos, Catalán gypsy bands, crap reggae by the shitload. Most of it boils down to the mushy corn so often served up to prove we can all get along. El Guincho has only himself to get along with, but you'd never know it just listening to his album: It sounds like a playground full of people chanting simple tune snatches and banging deftly on whatever's at hand--until he adds some (is it?) folk opera to "Cuando Maravilla Fui" or finishes off "Palmitos Park" with a ya-ya-ya straight out the Diamonds' "Little Darlin'." Layering his own instrumental and vocal lines atop drum tracks sampled from multiple sources, then adding more samples and rerecording the whole schmear, he's a one-man commune you're free to join.

Blender, Dec. 2008