Album Review: El Guincho – Hiperasia

After a six-year absence, Pablo Diaz-Reixa returns with a confident new statement




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In the late 2000s, Pablo Diaz-Reixa built a strong reputation for El Guincho, his gleeful, manic musical project that released two strong albums in the second half of the decade. While often credited for being a midpoint between the psychedelic electronics of mid-’00s Animal Collective and the subsequent rise of chillwave artists like Neon Indian and Toro Y Moi, his music primarily stood out for its deliriously carefree attitude. Diaz-Reixa left a strong impression then promptly vanished, with many wondering where he went.

In an interview with Spin, he explained that when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, the Spanish artist put his musical career on hold to take care of her. After her passing, he moved back to Barcelona to start work on the follow-up to 2010’s Pop Negro, but a breakup and a lack of inspiration caused him to scrap the bass-heavy material he had been working on for months. In its place is Hiperasia, a whirling collection of songs that combines his deep love of latin pop with more electronic atmospheres, adding elements of house and footwork that fit well with his penchant for frenetic, scattered music.

As a record, Hiperasia is all over the place, albeit in a way that rarely detracts from its appeal. Tracks like “Comix” may stand out initially, with catchy hooks and more rhythmic backing, but moments like the more jumpy “Sega” are just as intriguing. Hiperasia may be far removed from the celebratory ecstasy of Alegranza, his well-received 2007 debut, but it makes up for any eschewed revelry with a newfound sense of complexity. There are elements of the house music he made in the 2010s under the name “Trances”, but he blends that with his earlier styles so that while it may be markedly different, it’s not such a drastic departure. Diaz-Reixa has more than proven his talent and vision, and Hiperasia moves beyond his traditional toolbox.

Hiperasia excels as an electronic record, but Diaz-Reixa is careful to not let it feel pigeonholed. From swirling, dreamier moments like the highs of “De Bugas”, to the hypnotic bass and drum focus of “Pelo Rapado”, Diaz-Reixa is confident in his ability to throw opposing ideas together in a way that isn’t defeating. The conflict of Hiperasia is what drives it. By never committing fully in one genre or style, the record thrives in the gray area in between.

Diaz-Reixa has explained that he has no qualms about leaving listeners behind if they are looking for something more familiar. That adventurous, uncompromising stance is ultimately a boon for this record. He’s not trying to make a sequel to his earlier work, something to please fans. Instead, he’s challenging his listeners to grow with him. With that, Hiperasia is far from a difficult album, but rather a thrilling collection of experimental material that’s often just as inviting as his earlier work.

In the six years since the underrated Pop Negro, El Guincho has unfortunately become a bit of a footnote. While the current trends have moved far away from where they were when he was at the peak of his popularity, Diaz-Reixa deserves to be remembered. The fact that his return delivers on that demand makes it that much more refreshing. He could have easily come back with a retread of the spritely, colorful psych pop of his past, but instead he put in a great deal of effort to refine and refocus his sound. It’s not a shift that feels like a cheap grab to keep up with changing times, but rather a confident statement from an artist who had utilized the chance to grow on his own terms and craft his strongest work to date.

Essential Tracks: “Comix”, “Sega”, and “Zona Wi-Fi”

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