Now that the regrettable 2010s are behind us, it seems appropriate to cleanse ourselves with a fiesta at Club Space spurred by Luciano. The Swiss-Chilean producer, DJ, and Cadenza Records label founder performs like a Juilliard conductor who spent one night at Amnesia in Ibiza and swapped his baton for turntables. While many DJs prefer the ubiquitous two CDJs and a mixer for spinning, Luciano — real name Lucien Nicolet — unloads his sound through four channels via the DJ program Traktor.
Each channel borrows from different songs that, with some elbow grease, blend together to make a mesmerizing track full of Latin flair and an idiosyncratic tech-house sound. A bass line is sampled from one track, a euphoric synth part is tossed in, and a vocal from another channel is faded in with an infinite loop of teetering hi-hats — and the sum total will make your Shazam app implode. Luciano’s all-encompassing blend of tech house, along with his strong sense of heritage, makes him a commendable booking for any club: He could play LIV, Club Space, or even Ball & Chain and make each respective crowd dance till the morning hours.
When looking to the future of electronic music, Luciano turns to the past of various genres: During his set at Time Warp 2013, he dropped Pink Floyd's “The Show Must Go On” with an acerbic spiral delay and pounding bass. In his 2011 Essential Mix, the audacious vocals to Brittany Spears' “Toxic” were interwoven with hissing hi-hats.
Luciano hooked this writer, at the time primarily an EDM fiend, during the second weekend of Ultra 2013. That balmy night, he played a remix of Prince's “Let’s Go Crazy” and the classic 1993 track “20 HZ” by Capricorn, whose uplifting melody captures you before a paroxysm of drums ensues — perfect for a rhythm-hungry Miami crowd.
Where DJs find comfort in bass and kicks, Luciano finds home in the avant-garde: Bongos are looped for over 20 minutes in one set; an old muffled aria is used in his track “Cachai”; a piercing sitar is used in his track “Amael Drama”; and he recorded a street performer singing in Mexico for another track. In a 2013 talk for the nonprofit organization Bridges for Music, Luciano described the recording in a nonchalant manner: “This is a voice that I recorded with my phone when I found this guy singing in the streets of Mexico. I recorded it, put it on my label, and now play it.”
It's common for Luciano to weave tracks in and out of his sets, as evidenced by the embedded show that took place at the Surfcomber during Winter Music Conference in 2016. Be sure to look out for “Dope” by Butch, as well as the biggest tease in electronic music, Butric's “Up.” Like his counterpart, the German-Chilean DJ and producer Ricardo Villalobos (who has not played in Miami for the past 16 years), or the writer Kurt Vonnegut, for that matter, time is a nonlinear illusion: Luciano and Villalobos can produce tracks that range from 15 minutes to a half-hour. Similarly, during a set, a drum pattern or melody might play for 20-plus minutes, but it becomes so ingrained in the set that you notice it only until it's muted. It’s akin to a chef adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to a dish to amplify the whole thing.
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In the aforementioned 2013 discussion, Luciano said, “Being creative is being able to make something out nothing. I have more respect for a DJ who is not technical but has a great taste in music than someone who can play a technical set. The soul of music is the music itself — it’s the whole difference.”
Luciano has refined his technique as an intrepid Ibiza DJ, having played at the now-closed Space Ibiza and Richie Hawtin’s now-retired party series Enter. He's also known for his festive party Vagabundo’s, which now boasts a residency at Amnesia in Ibiza. The party series does go on the road and has been hosted in Spain, France, Russia, and even the South Beach nightclub Story. In 2012, Luciano partnered with the guitarist and songwriter Lenny Kravitz to play a hybrid set at the Ibiza 123 Rocktronic Festival. Luciano provided bass and saxophone rifts from his laptop while Kravitz and his band played soulful sounds.
Luciano's versatility and brio make him an excellent fit for Club Space. His appearance will be a reunion of sorts — Luciano was one of the first DJs to play at the club under new ownership. Till light filters through the roof Sunday morning, Luciano is sure to inject a hotblooded sound into the nervous system of Miami’s club culture.