The underground world in New York was chock full of choices for New Year’s Eve — Lee Burridge and Moby, Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, and PillowTalk, Francois K, Pat Mahoney, or Steve Lawler and Carlo Lio (to name a few) were all in town for the big night. None of these however, garnered more of a flurry of interest and excitement than the announcement that Luciano and a trusty crew of beatmakers would be throwing a Vagabundos party on New Year’s Day. The event opened its doors at the Compound in Brooklyn at 4:30am, only 30 minutes after Dada Life and company closed out their high-powered New Year’s Eve party.
The Compound is an impressive 64,000 square foot space on a secluded street in Brooklyn — making a perfect setting for New Yorkers to experience the Swiss-Chilean master’s colorful, Latin-infused patterns in sound. For the nearly sixteen hours that the venue was filled with a particular breed of groovy and minimal techno and house, 15 Rewe Street transformed itself into a small slice of Balearic heaven. The crowd was exotic, the sparse warehouse was filled with warm lighting in oranges and pale pinks, and we were deeply immersed in the sights and sounds of the White Isle in spite of the freezing temperatures and gusty winds outside. As many of you may know, a Vagabundos party is about much more than the music and this time was no different. Dancers on stilts and glittering winged costumes, palm fronds, bird cages, and comforting familial vibes filled the barren concrete walls.
And we haven’t even talked about the music yet. After brilliant warm-ups from Sleepy & Boo and Luca Bacchetti, the Cadenza label head, Luciano, took over the decks around 9 AM. Luciano’s sets, and this one in particular, significantly blur the line between DJing and live performance — he handily led his genre into the world of modern technology. While many of the most skilled DJs and producers swear by vinyl and analog methods, Luciano has embraced the power of digital. As of late, he has been a champion for Traktor Kontrol F1, a piece of hardware with sixteen LED pads, 4 individual fader and filter knobs, and impressive mixing software to boot.
What does that mean exactly? It means that Luciano was able to spend the entirety of his four hour set on January 1st building on simple concepts like loops and live musical elements such as bells, whistles, drums, and vocal samples to make unique and conceptual music. Whether or not he was fully producing on the spot at a given time is always a bit unclear, since many of his tracks are unreleased or even re-edited live. It keeps it interesting for him, and it keeps it even more interesting for his audience. Luciano can spend ten or fifteen minutes building on one concept, slowly layering in elements and eventually breaking into a gigantic bassline you forgot was still looping in the background. The effect on the crowd is massive — he pushes the dancefloor to the edge and brings it back again, creating an atmosphere bordering somewhere between hysteria and complete exhilaration.
We recognized a few of the tracks Luci played over the course of his set (there was, of course both a mid-set and close-out appearance of his ever-popular “Rise of Angel“), but we’re not here to list a bunch of track IDs or top tracks to know from the NYD party. This surreal experience was important in and of itself for lovers of the underground, but longer term we must recognize the role this man has and will continue to play in the avant-garde community of dance music producers and performers. He plays what he feels, he reads the audience to a tee, and uses influences both old and new to refresh his sound time and again. The way Luciano directs a dancefloor is casual, powerful, but above all, shifts the paradigm of our beloved craft.