Kindred spirit

On his debut album, Familia, Pier Bucci sires a collection of warm and soulful electronic music

Photo: Courtesy of Plexi PR

Photo: Courtesy of Plexi PR

"I love all of our artists, of course," Damian Lazarus, the man behind the agit-dance label Crosstown Rebels, told TONY earlier this year, "but I really love Pier Bucci. He's totally enthralling and exhilarating." High praise, but coming from a record-label honcho, not unexpected—among that gang, hyperbole tends to drip from the lips in a honeyed torrent. Sure, Bucci, who'll be performing live at the Robots shindig on Tuesday 29, with Lazarus on the decks, had released two well-received EPs of cottony, enveloping microhouse on the label, and has had a long career of successful collaborations with others. But wasn't "enthralling and exhilarating" laying it on a bit thick?

Then, last month, Familia—Bucci's first full-length solo album and the inaugural long-player on Crosstown Rebels—hit the shops, and now Lazarus isn't the only one singing the Chilean-born Bucci's praises. The haunting and graceful recording, hailed as "the electronic album of the year" by some reviewers, is one of the standout releases in the burgeoning genre that's often called "romantic techno," a wistful, dreamy form of electronic music popularized by artists like Superpitcher and a sizable chunk of Ellen Allien's Bpitch Control label.

"Really, I haven't even listened to that Superpitcher album," Bucci, 36, says in his warm Spanish accent, "so I don't really know about that." Instead, he matter-of-factly explains where the emotional juice of his music comes from: his synthesizer of choice. "The Moog gives you this melancholy," he explains. "Whatever you play on the Moog, it ends up sounding very romantic—it touches your heart."

The music's emotive quality is something it shares with a cadre of respected Chilean electronic-music producers, which includes luminaries such as Ricardo Villalobos, Lucien-N-Luciano, Martin "Dandy Jack" Schopf and Bucci's brother Andres, among others—most of whom Bucci has recorded with in various combinations. "It's funny, these are the same people I've been hanging out with for a long time, and I can't really explain why we're all doing so well." Bucci says. Along with what seems to be the entire techno world, most of them have now relocated to the genre's mecca. "We all live in Berlin—they call us the Chilean posse," he adds.

Some of Bucci's earlier output, particularly his work with Argenis Brito as Mambotur, has a decided Latin edge, but Bucci says his main influences come from well beyond South America: It was the clanging sounds of postindustrial Britain—the kind found on labels like Warp and Planet Mu—that got his creative juices flowing. "Mike Paradinas, Squarepusher, Luke Vibert, Autechre, LFO—it's their music that made me make my own music," Bucci recalls. "I liked it so much that it caused me to move to London in the '90s. I went to see those performers and hear all that music wherever I could—taking pictures and everything!"

Fanboy of those bleep- loving artists he may have been, but Bucci's sound has an overriding quality of human emotion that most musicians working in bits and bytes can only dream of. A hint of where it comes from lies in the album's title. "The way I've always worked has been based on friendship," he says. "It's very much like a family to me, very open; everything is very free. I feel that family, in every sense of the word, is the basis for all society—the basis for everything, really—and it's definitely a good way to work."

The compassionate feeling seems to rub off on the people with whom Bucci works, including Crosstown Rebel's Lazarus. (The pair is currently collaborating on the soundtrack to the film A Game of Two Halves, a documentary about a Middle Eastern soccer team made up of both Jewish and Arabic players.) "With every day that passes in my relationship with Pier Bucci," Lazarus says, "my belief that he is one of the greatest talents in electronic music increases. He has a musical vision and a melodic heart that's just beginning to be recognized, and I am truly blessed to work with such a genius." Label-boss promotion or not, we kind of believe him.

Pier Bucci and Damian Lazarus are at Robots on Tuesday 29.