Fuck 'Hakuna Matata'
When Pixar finally make The Lion King: Beach Party In The Sahara, Sir Elton John will no doubt throw a hissy. The credit crunch is effecting us all John boy, and not only does the modest figure of El Guincho come cheaper than your bloated ass, but he also comes propelled by a completed, booty-shaking, tropical soundtrack, destined for the Disney family brand. The patronising warthog will get sloshed on coconut rum, his irritating, ratty friend will cop off with a mongoose and Simba won’t think twice about his dead pa. Fuck ‘Hakuna Matata’. Good times are now called ‘Alegranza’.
Pablo Diaz-Reixa named himself El Guincho after a bird from the Canary Islands that always flies alone. Creatively a loner himself – every African rhythm, reggaeton beat and primary-splattered sample is the work of this one man – Diaz-Reixa too was raised in the Canaries, before basing himself in Barcelona, where “it’s really hard to have music as a job so that’s a good thing in terms of writing exciting music”.
“You don’t have the pressure to fit anywhere,” he tells us in a shamefully rainy London “or to convince any specific audience. And it is totally less press influenced. I feel more comfortable in Barcelona in terms of writing music and finding my sound. It’s very related to the city.”
So they don’t get the London Lite in the Catalonian capital. No wonder everyone isn’t in “my favourite new band”, as gushed by any number of gossip column hags. But even the most cloth-eared of listener needn’t be told that Barcelona’s les affaire style is key to the sounds found on El Guincho’s debut album; ‘Alegranza’’s mirroring vibrancy as unmissable as an illustrated toucan funnelling chilled Kia-Ora down your arched gullet. More than a slice of sun, it’s an album of tropicana for us weather beaten Brits to holiday to, and with; an escapism that El Guincho was exactly aiming for, albeit for reasons altogether different to those of our climate related woes.
“I was totally trying to escape from feeling trapped in my other band,” nods the singer. “El Guincho was kinda like my way to chill from the typical band things, like rehearsals, fights and all that. I wanted to try different sounds and different production so I just took the songs that I had written for my band to my own thing, and recorded them in 2 days, trying to keep them as fresh as I possibly could.”
So, free from inter-band interfering, The Lion King: Beach Party In The Sahara is free to rage on until the glimmer of dawn in whatever fashion El Guincho cares for. Hooves can two-step to the speed salsa of ‘Palmitos Park’, palm trees can come down to the plinking plonk of ‘Pol Ca Mazurca’, stuffy characters can comically double drop to ‘Antillas’. And then there needs to be a death. Preferably of the warthog. Which apparently there is on ‘Alegranza’, confirmed by Guincho when admitting that, like most records, the album’s continual themes are “love and how to fit the idea of dying in there”.
This bleakness is news to us. If it is there in El Guincho’s music it’s buried deep. Or perhaps that’s what us who can only speak limited Spanish (need to order a cheese sandwich, I’m your man… and then I’m spent) like to think.
“I guess in Spain people understand about the lyrics so they can actually see the ‘other side’ of the album,” states an ominous El Guincho, alluding further to a darker undercurrent in his safari rhythms. Great, so the warthog does get it. But let’s talk more about the colour of ‘Alegranza’. It could only be one item of clothing – a Hawaiian shirt. No, a pair of Hawaiian Bermuda shorts, garish and fun, trying their hardest to trick the human eye into thinking it’s just seen a brand new shade. The likes of MIA aside, is music in need of some more colour?
El Guincho says: “I don’t think so. I think people are opening their ears more and more. I love music that would be seen as ‘monochrome’ compared to my record. I like minimalism, especially in pop music, although I know ‘Alegranza’ is kinda like the opposite in terms of sound. But it actually is really simple in terms of songwriting. Writing fun music is also a very clever thing. Like the Pet Shop Boys. But yeah, we’re just recording some tunes. That’s it, how could we take ourselves seriously? We all really NEED music but we’re not saving lives. I’m just thankful to be making a living from it.”
Elton John would have lapped up that question, spitting his worth, arrogantly. But what would Reg Dwight know? He just lost his job to young man who’s making original soundscapes in glorious Technicolor.