A Guide to the Birds of South America, El Buho
Rhythm 'N' Roots, Argentina/UK
by Carlos Reyes
Like most printed navigational maps, the use of commercial study guides as means for academic support and specialty research has not been vanished by electronic tablets, but it has made the itinerary industry less profitable. The distribution of field guides in our present techno world has turned into a peer-to-peer sharing practice that has killed the middleman and used his ashes to flourish the possibilities for a sonic travelogue.
UK-based spacious producer El Buho crafts a world of rainforest techno in his beautifully conceived and well executed debut EP, A Guide to the Birds of South America. “What better place to search for melody than in birdsong?” asks the continent-hopping voyager, and he might be right. Combining blocks of programmable landscapes with bird calls from the Amazon, this five-piece EP proves to be a great accompanying reference to the existing 500-page guide with the same name by Italian American ornithologist, Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee. Chopped and dragged opener “Spix’s Woodcreeper” is profound to the artist’s premise but also reveals a lack of aseptic conditions as El Buho decides to syncopate vocal samples that don’t necessarily take away from the appealing concept, but they do push the efficiency of the guide into a broader survey.
Less intricate in the search for personal language than El Sueño de la Casa Propia or Chancha Via Circuito, El Buho does carry that role of a zoologist, but that doesn’t mean that he is less ambitious. In fact, when it comes to the assortment of root music taking part in a global techno scene (pay special attention to “Pauraque” and “Tropical Screech Owl”), the techniques used by El Buho are more palpable to resonate with a middle-of-the-road audience than with techno buffs. More than a teaching guide about taxonomy or bird call recognition, this guide is all about building melodies inside of a technological environment. A Guide to the Birds of South America is not only a fine exercise of the Amazonian atmosphere, it’s also a fine example of music as a sort of dissertation for El Buho, who for the past year has built his credentials as the sharp and seemingly hidden author of the blog Rhythm ‘N’ Roots.