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FACT Mix 187

by El Guincho

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(Factmag.com)

Piratas de Sudamérica EP and "Bombay"

by El Guincho

(Young Turks)

The first thing I heard by Pablo Díaz-Reixa's alter ego El Guincho was 2008's rough and joyous Alegranza; by contrast, Pop Negro, which "Bombay" comes from, initially sounded Totally Adult '80s—Peter Gabriel, not Tiffany—redolent of a time when saxophone solos and cocaine ruled the land. Several listens later, it's become harder to hear those cavils—not simply because familiarity breeds warmth, but because some ancillary material helped open it up.

The proliferation of DJ mixes online is a boon and a curse. Most, of course, are dance-oriented in some way (including lots of hiphop and pop ones)—but more and more often, podcasts and ziptapes are becoming integral to the promotion and public profile of non-DJ-identified artists. Díaz-Reixa's contribution to the London website FACT's mix series, in which he edits 26 tracks from across the Latin-music spectrum into 26 minutes, stringing them together not so much like a DJ mix as like a pause-button tape, is a best-case scenario in many ways.

The cruddy fidelity of many songs gives this mostly very straight selection some serious psychedelic qualities. Sometimes it just evokes a childhood of warped cassettes, as with the weird tape squeal marring Willie Colón's "Che Che Colé," or the almost revengelike quality that the mud covering up Julio Iglesias's "Me Va Me Va Me Va (Live Benidorm)" takes on. (Ditto Díaz-Reixa letting it run for two full minutes.) He tricks things up with digital delay and cross fades and offers a head-trip, head-fuck remix of Ruben Blades's "Decisiones." It's memory soup, a hazy and uncanny listen.

In a way, the FACT Mix is like a reverse cover version of Piratas de Sudamérica, the EP that predated Pop Negro by a couple months. On Piratas, Díaz-Reixa covers old Latin folk and pop songs from varying sources, and the tone couldn't be less stolid or more loving. The cloudy warmth of "Frutas Del Caney"—percussion seeming to go up in smoke before your ears, whiny lo-fi guitar wah-wah, the whole thing produced to sound like an old cassette—makes even good chillwave sound more bereft of tunes, skill, and give-a-shit than even its detractors scream. Piratas peaks high with "Mientes," a duet with Julieta Venegas and a great vocal performance, passionate and controlled, while the background turns to sand. "Bombay" offers plenty to chew on, but it feels a lot deeper in this company.