Dusted Features

Destined: Luciano

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Features

David Day discusses Chilean-Swiss electronic artist Luciano.

Destined: Luciano

Looking up, towards the iridescent details of the old Metropolis Opera House in Montreal, the chiming glissandoes bounce off the ceiling like dragonflies in a glass box. When Luciano made his entrance onto MUTEK 2003, most everyone in the crowd recognized those stereoscopic chimes. They herald the Luciano sound: one of seduction, simplicity and slithering sensuality. And as the Chliean nodded – bending over his laptop – a teeming, circling throng of dance lovers began to march out his beat. They kept with it for more than an hour, stiffening at every subtle blast of static, until members of the Senor Coconut’s orchestra re-emerged from the side of the stage. They joined him in a cooly-understated live/laptop collaboration that brought many a shriek from the now-packed Metropolis dance floor. This was Luciano in fine form.

The Germany / Chile axis of electronic music has heated up enough now, after the ascent of Atom Heart and Ricardo Villalobos especially, that the appearance of Lucien Nicolet [a k a Luciano] will propel it into the mainstream. Senor Nicolet has participated in electronic music since 1993, but it was not until 2002’s release on the Max Ernst label that the music world really took notice. That CD, a mix of his own simply titled Live At Weetamix, blew the doors off minimal techno and simultaneously set the stage for MUTEK Chile and the rest of 2003, when Luciano would release 12” after 12” of tweaked and stuttered dancefloor funk.

The premiere edition of MUTEK Chile [Jan. 7-11] in Valparaiso saw a confluence of electronic intellects and enthusiasts get down to some cutting-edge sounds [that’s the great thing about this minimal music, many people really love to dance to it]. In the thick of it was our man Luciano putting on his extended remix of the theme from Amelie, a lengthy, spiraling ping of xylophone, plucked strings and bass thwaps. And if the throngs had not heard of him yet, his name was surely passing from ear to ear by the time everyone had put their hands down. It may come as a surprise to many, but Chile is looking really excellent when it comes to advanced electronic sounds. Dinky, Atom Heart, Ricard Villalobos, Dandy Jack, Andres Bucci and others represent an influx of West South American perspective on the electronic sound, where the bouncing rhythms of Latin America meet distinctly current electronic production. Luciano is not simply the latest of this crew, but may well be the greatest.

Luciano not only carries the Chilean banner, but the Swiss banner as well. This just as easily could be a Destined feature on Switzerland, home to the Weetamix venue, Luciano and the fast-rising Mental Groove, Cadenza and Bruchstuecke labels. Currently, Weetamix holds the distinction of being one of the most exclusive, most innovative clubs in the world. The Geneva night spot features Richie Hawtin, Jeff Mills, Ricardo Villalobos, Daniel Bell, Miss Kittin and a residency from Luciano in December alone. Mental Groove released Luciano’s “Future Senses” on their Hosomaki: Mix 2 compilation. Cadenza issued Luciano’s most devilish track, and Luciano’s contribution to Bruchstuecke is almost radical.

Electronic music, particularly the 4/4 genres of House and Techno, are often criticized for sounding the same and without much room for innovation. Just as often, however, someone comes along to bend it just enough to prove everyone wrong. For a long time, the sound of marimbas, congas and Guiros have been intergrated into electronic with less effect, or at least in a more traditional fashion. Luciano takes his Chilean influences through the minimal funk groove of Detroit, the best dynamics of trance and emulsifies it with a crisp, clear production that sounds like the sun coming out from behind a cloud.

This is not cookie-cutter cultural export, but very much a new sound borne out of innovation and carefree experimentation. Consider the recent “Orange Mistake” 12” on the Cadenza label, which has Luciano in partnership with Phil Quenum from Access 58. I would speculate that “Orange Mistake” is in fact that, a mistake made in the mix that perhaps went orange on the EQ meter or some such thing, because there is a funky, messy break that drops in every 8 bars or so. It stays on beat but is just jarring enough to perk your ears up. A little more of this is techno’s next step: tiny tinny blasts of white noise, bringing the beat back around each time.

If “Orange Mistake” is a peek into the future, the Luciano’s Mebrillo EP on Bruchstuecke is a glimpse at its past. The story goes that Luciano met this octet from Barcelona that played on instruments made of trash. He promised he would remix them, so here it is. Side one has the original from Cabo San Roque (“Calypso 08”), a charming, clattering junkyard tune. Flip it over, though, and the song disappears behind Luciano’s neu beat for a few minutes when it reveals it had been there the entire time.

Luciano’s big hit of 2003, though was “Alpine Rocket,” another collaboration [Nicolet’s pretty high on collaboration], this time with Canada’s Matthew Jonson. Again we have Luciano’s latinized techno, with the noisier elements more subdued, but it’s undoubtedly Cassy Britton’s vocals that had people bumping into one another. Like the cuts from fellow Chliean Ricardo Villalobos, “Alpine Rocket” is extra long and evolves and revolves from hit to beat to hit again.

For Luciano, 2003 ends with a bang. His cut “Artamis,” brimming with bubbles and pitch-warbling chords, ends the new double-disc from the vogue Cocoon label, mixed by Sven Vath. It’s the perfect set-up for 2004.

See you in Chile.

By David Day

Read More

View all articles by David Day

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.