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A cadenza is, according to Merriam-Webster, "a technically brilliant, sometimes improvised, solo passage toward the close of a concerto." Celebrating seven years this Winter Music Conference, Cadenza Records is nowhere near the close of its movements.
But the often brilliant deep/minimal tech-house label is launching a contrasting rhythm of a sort at Grass Lounge this Saturday. That's when it officially celebrates its online-only offshoot, Cadenza Lab, with a party featuring Brothers Vibe, Mirko Loko, Gavin Herlihy, Alex Picone, and Sety, featuring a headlining set by Cadenza label head Luciano (Lucien Nicolet to his family).
"Cadenza Lab is all about releasing singles to the digital platforms [such as Beatport, Juno, and Whatpeopleplay], trying to be a little bit quicker for the younger artists since they have more output," Luciano says by phone from his home near the Swiss-French border. "But I'm still analog; I have a studio full of machines, not only files. You have to try to find a form you can manage in between these things."
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Indeed, change happens, and balance is a must. Since its debut in 2003, Cadenza has grown from a two-man operation to a staff of 12, from a boutique record label to a booking agency and outlet for contemporary expression across media from vinyl to fabric. The original Cadenza label launched with "Orange Mistake"/"Funky Daddy," a single by Luciano and Quenum, and Cadenza Lab also will be inaugurated by an initial release from Luciano. (It will be followed by Francisco Allendes & Marcelo Rosselot, Mirko Loko, and Yakine.)
The Swiss-Chilean Luciano produces and spins a sound infused with unfeigned psychoacoustics drawn equally from Europe, South America, and Africa. He has also previously championed the 12-inch single as an art object, not as a money-making endeavor, and because several of his contemporaries, such as Berlin-based DJ/producer Ricardo Villalobos, still fetishize the format. But practicality has made him reconsider a bit. Technology has narrowed the gap between the analog and digital frequency response, and Luciano has had to compensate for his home's relative isolation through digital portals.
Additionally, having a laptop performance rig (centered on Native Instruments' Traktor Pro and Maschine) has allowed Luciano to further his style of real-time groove editing. This way, he can build a track's buzz for months without ever presenting the same arrangement twice. Luciano will organically add to the base of his Cadenza exclusives, layering luminous melodies, percussion that ripples like street life, and detailed bass.
It's a positive vibe he thinks goes well with his preferred venue, which is a daytime party such as the Cadenza vs. Desolat event he will coheadline with Loco Dice this Thursday at the Shelborne. And Luciano has forged a communal philosophy that ultimately ties Cadenza Lab and the future of digital distribution in with the past.
"The music I really appreciate is the music of the '60s and the '70s, when much of music was about people having the ability to express themselves with an instrument, but they moved around to play with bands and see how people added to their creativity, and communities formed around them," he concludes. "Today it is more every individual in front of a computer, but we can still work to offer more than just the sound of presets, and maybe inspire people to go out and share their sounds."