By David Rolland
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Achim Szepanski, owner of the influential German-based label Mille Plateaux, for which Duca records, has even harsher words for the electronic dance music's devolvement. Speaking with a British interviewer, he labeled the current rave scene a freizeitknast, a pleasure-prison, positing that "Fascism was mobilizing people for the war machines; rave is mobilizing people for the pleasure machines." In this context Duca's efforts for Mille Plateaux are nothing less than carefully principled political statements, and perhaps even a veiled elegy to the utopian possibilities raves once promised.
Later that afternoon Duca sits inside his high-rise Alton Road apartment. The long, spacious living room is dramatically sparse. A table. A computer and several keyboards on the floor across from a futon. Not a single picture adorns the gray walls to the left and right, which consequently seem to blur into the gray carpeted floor. The effect pulls one's eyes toward the far wall straight ahead, which consists entirely of floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors that reveal a breathtaking bay view -- a living still life as it were.
"Living in Miami hasn't changed me directly. I'm not making salsa or Miami bass," Duca says with a glance out at the gorgeous vista of Star Island's palm trees, slowly cruising yachts, and peaceful water lightly dappled by the sun. "But the lifestyle here is more relaxed [than in Vienna]. There is less angst in the air; it's less hectic. The intellectual Manhattan mindset isn't here, but I don't need to go to gigs or have much culture around me. I work best when I'm in a vacuum. What is most inspiring for me is a quiet environment, with as few distractions as possible."
Duca leans over his computer and summons forth a sample of his work in progress, explaining that with the just-finished Elevator 3 (set for release on Mille Plateaux later this year), he has refined his sample-based, thrift-shop-obtained aesthetic to a logical endpoint. Now he's returned to synthesizers. The evidence begins playing from his computer's speakers: thick harpsichordlike scales that oscillate like the tide, vaguely akin to Wendy Carlos Williams's early work. Although shorn of any overt beat or obvious melody (surely the first steps on the slippery slope to freizeitknast), it is immediately relaxing. While it is music that avoids the somnambular effects of new-age creations, it's also hard not to wonder if Duca's South Beach environment -- not least of all that meditative view that faces him as he sits down in front of his instruments -- isn't having some telling effects.
"A chef should be able to cook with whatever ingredients are in the refrigerator," Duca says philosophically in response. "You shouldn't be attached to a certain style. I'm open to whatever's out there."