Luciano, Etudes Electroniques

[Cadenza]


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In spite of being an influential and accomplished producer in his own right, Lucien Nicolet aka Luciano is too often mentioned in the same breath as his countryman, Ricardo Villalobos. While their respective work shares a distinct and heavily documented organic warmth, their paths diverge there, with Luciano experimenting with both abstract forms, jiggling house tracks and song-oriented material, as found on the Blind Behavior album. And yet, on his latest release, the 2×12″ “Etudes Electroniques,” I find myself looking to a familiar source of reference.

“Etudes” calls to mind another celebrated 2×12″ in the Cadenza back catalog — Villalobos’ “Achso”: Both stick to one track per side and fill each with long, meandering tracks. What’s more, both are primarily DJ tool kits with just enough elements to be chopped, looped and shaped into amorphous aural creatures to consume the dance floor. But of the two, “Etudes” feels more outwardly utilitarian than the wild and woolly “Achso.”

Luciano is at his peak on the achingly gorgeous opener, “Montana,” which he steeps in dusky tones, polishes with affected harp glissandi, and brings to life with bass pulses which sound like a massive throat swallowing. The remaining three are more functional in nature and offer less to draw listeners all the way to the end. “Fochedrem,” which Luciano caned in his recent Essential Mix, sends ribbed rhythms to meet up with a variety of diminutive melodies and one-off percussive friends through its 15 minutes. On “Masalla,” he favors clear-headed progressions painted in broad brush strokes over a tom-heavy beat. Closer “Nunca Tiene Bastante” rapidly fires its pistons and embodies the wicked clown featured on DC10’s promo materials with peals of manic laughter.

Played by themselves, three of “Etudes Electroniques”‘ four tracks (“Montana” being the notable exception) are just short of the depth and energy which make “Fourges Et Sabres” and “Achso” so compelling in a variety of settings. That said, each are powerful devices for making dancers lose their shit, as long as they end up in capable hands. Therein lies the difficulty of offering your own arsenal for sale.

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