When an artist becomes successful and develops a distinctive style, they often become trapped in a repetitive creative cycle rooted in laziness and fear. With each passing work, the artist bears a responsibility to challenge their audience, since failure to remain ahead of the curve will sour public opinion. No matter the genre, medium, or level of success, all artists have followers ready to embrace and share exciting new work, as well as fans who simply want more of the art they’ve come to know and love. Though both points of view are valid, the entertainment industry deems you to be only as good as your latest project’s ability to captivate. In the case of Hiperasia, El Guincho’s latest release, the Canary Islands native shatters all preconceptions of his work, making a tremendous sonic leap out of self-imposed musical exile and into a complex world of his own creation.
Six long years have passed since El Guincho’s last full album, and Hiperasia is a wildly divergent offering from the tropical up-tempo music the famed Spanish producer is known for. Hiperasia explores a darker, heavier, slightly more unsettling sound than its predecessors, trading in the vision of perpetual summer whimsically laid out on Alegranza! and Pop Negro, for a choppy glitched-out premonition of futuristic urban music. Though glimmers of El Guincho’s fun-loving spirit still manage to shine through, this is a decidedly moodier take on futurism, one that borders on sci-fi, conjuring images of Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Fans may be confused by this creative shift, but give the music an honest listen and you’ll find that El Guincho’s magic is still there – it’s just packaged differently.
Hiperasia kicks off with “Rotu Seco” and “Comix,” a mellow and gritty arrival to El Guincho’s new digital dystopia. “Comix,” the LP’s lead single, features Mala Rodríguez on a slow and hyper-cool verse, and it’s also the only guest appearance on the album. Things get jazzy on “Pizza,” with a bass line reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest, and preaching a gospel of bliss through junk food. With “Sega,” we begin a brief look back at sunnier times. It leads into “De Bugas,” without a doubt the reggaetón of tomorrow. Some of the most interesting moments come towards the middle-end of the album, on tracks like “Parte Virtual,” “Stena Drillmax,” and “Muchos Boys,” which tread rave, deep house, and ballroom territory – kind of like throwbacks to the 2090s. “Hiperasia” is one of the album’s most vibrant experiments, making the most out of fade-outs and pauses, altering the song’s beat to the point of entropy. “Zona WiFi” is the brilliant album closer, simple yet clever for the dizzying effect it achieves by playing with RPM.
The album features more auto-tune than you can shake at T-Pain, but instead of being campy and cliché, the effect is one of lonely disengagement, like an android lost in a metropolis. The track list alone showcases a man who enjoys the comforts and virtues of living in a big city, while also being acutely aware of the impact globalization is having on his home. In a statement, El Guincho explained that Hiperasia was inspired by busy Chinese bazaars in Madrid, and his interest in translating that energy into music. Late last year, Pablo Diaz-Reixa began releasing parts of the album via wearable tech, an indication of the producer’s curiosity for what music will sound like in the future, but also for how we’ll be listening to it then. Instead of clinging to past successes, El Guincho is busy carving out a place for himself in tomorrow’s playlists, somehow managing to create nostalgia for a world we haven’t yet experienced.
Hiperasia deserves to be hailed for its bold and innovative production, and in particular for its “up yours” approach to hype and expectation. “Comix” features a particularly insightful lyric regarding El Guincho’s evolution: “Comix, volví como ave fénix/ Sé que te molesta ver como no me cuesta.” He’s burned down his past and risen from the ashes, absolutely certain of his new direction. Though many will surely miss the colorful carnival sounds of albums past, El Guincho has no intention of being stuck in a fond memory or letting us dwell there for too long. Hiperasia demonstrates that artistic conviction must always prevail over the whims of the audience; a great artist creates taste instead of pandering to it.
Hiperasia is out now on Nacional Records.