The Lexington, Angel
El Guincho’s club-friendly brand of exotica – steel drums, high-life guitars, tropicalia rhythms – is so sampledelic that attempting a “live” incarnation could be either futile or very expensive. Indeed, as tonight’s support act Chad Valley so ably proves, stabbing at a keyboard while singing over a backing track does not a captivating live show make. So it’s a pleasant surprise that El Guincho (Pablo Diaz-Reixa to his mum) has extra musicians in tow and that his set, while continuously locked into a computerised click, maintains the flexibility and looseness of the Latin funk and afrobeat to which his records pay homage.
Despite the added bassist and guitarist, though, the band is as static as its music is frantic, which remains disconcerting even after Diaz-Reixa requests to have the stage lights extinguished (“we need a Spanish dance party vibe!” he insists). His music is impressively unique in calling to mind any number of genres and acts (not least tonight Animal Collective and Manu Chao), while simultaneously sounding nothing like any of them. Unfortunately this illusion of alchemy is somewhat pricked by his total lack of stagecraft – but watch an El Guincho show with eyes closed and the magic lives on.
By Sam Walton
Originally published in issue 20 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. August 2010