Uprooting binary understandings of past and future, Nicola Cruz’s music is his own cosmological journey through sound and space. Pulling deeply from the Andean and African rhythmic sounds of his Ecuadorian heritage, Cruz playfully reconstructs the folkloric roots of the past, buoying them with sun-soaked contemporary electronic underpinnings. His dreamlike body of work is a deeply human-focused exploration on the cultural traditions at the root of South American music and the way that their modernized reverberations echo out into the world.
As a child, Cruz hopped from his birthplace of Limoges, France to Ecuador’s capital city Quito, ending up in Mexico in the late aughts to hone the craft of studio production and sound design. Nearly a half-decade of production resulted in 2015’s debut LP Prender El Alma, a cohesive body of organic Afro-Latin textures pulsating with buoyant electronic flourishes that complement without overwhelming. Following a flurry of EPs he began forming the foundation for 2019’s Siku, which was birthed from a desire to “do the trip” (both physically and metaphysically) to other cultures across the globe—experiencing and absorbing rhythms to integrate into the producer’s ever-growing “Andes step” sound. Sitars and bansuri flutes mingle with stuttering, polyrhythmic percussion, and his knack for patterns of build and release conjure the album’s cosmic energy. Just as his productions have grown in scope, so has demand for Cruz's always-shifting live shows—performed from a modular setup which stretches and teases his source material into ever-shifting improvised permutations. Often adjusting the emotion transmitted in live shows according to the extensive walks he takes around the city before performing, Cruz views the dubby, dynamic re-arrangement of his music as a conversation in flux between cultures, dance floor and performer.
Cruz’s performance at MUTEK will include mystically-minded, frequent collaborator Fidel Eljuri, whose audiovisual work focuses on the morphing cultural relationships between technological and spiritual realms. Leveraging his internship at an Ecuadorian TV channel into a career in motion graphics and digital footage, Eljuri's visuals invoke sprawling images of the natural world Cruz's music travels through. Lauded for their warmth, depth, and unfurling spontaneity, Cruz and Eljuri’s work connects the dots between traditional knowledges and their modern day electronic manifestations.