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Credit: Eric Scaggiante

Recognise: Piezo

Milan-based producer and DJ Piezo has spent the past decade refining his meticulously mutated strain of club music, with releases appearing on lauded labels such as Wisdom Teeth and Nervous Horizon. Alongside a head-spinning Recognise mix, he tells Christian Eede about his early days in the Italian freetekno rave scene, formative years in Bristol, and the global sound palette of his Ansia label’s latest compilation

On the face of it, Luca Mucci’s gateway into the world of underground electronic music was like many others’ – discovering Aphex Twin and Autechre as a 16-year-old surfing the internet. What came next for the DJ and producer now known as Piezo, though, as he followed that path further and further, set off an obsession with sound system music that endures today, and has seen him forge a signature sound of woozy, mutant club music and head-spinning, meticulous sound design.

“I grew up in quite a rural part of central Italy, and got involved in the freetekno scene when I was around 17,” Mucci says, referencing the illegal outdoor raves, dubbed ‘teknivals’, that he attended through his formative teenage years. Often concentrated around long, tall walls of subs and speaker stacks, the raves were dominated by the manically fast kicks and often psychedelic sounds of the freetekno genre – a far cry from the precision-engineered technoid club cuts that he releases today on labels such as Wisdom Teeth and Nervous Horizon. “You find yourself in front of a giant sound system and your mind is just blown,” he says of that time. “That’s still the energy source for everything I’m doing, tracing back to that ‘boom!’ moment.”

One particular summer spent attending various raves in fields saw him fall deeper and deeper into the scene, as well as its somewhat bohemian inclinations. “I’ve never been a nomad or a hippy, so I wasn’t necessarily living that way, but there was a period where I really believed in the message,” Mucci says. “It took me a while to realise that sound system music could be something else other than four-to-the-floor though. It took discovering Mala and Coki, and dubstep, to bridge that gap.”

He came across the UK genre, with its focus on booming bassweight and 140-BPM drums, while attending university in Milan. Having initially started making music of his own, and playing live, during his teknival days, his sound morphed in the early ‘10s as he attempted to emulate the darker dubstep stylings of the likes of Kryptic Minds and Killawatt, his “heroes” at that time.

A string of releases followed between 2013 and 2016, giving Mucci the chance to commit his productions to vinyl for the first time. “That period was mind-blowing for me at first – for example, the first time I got a gig in London,” he says. “It made me feel like things were going somewhere and I should really believe in what I’m doing. That was a good couple of years, but I slowly started to realise that being part of a scene and sound that was so specific was quite limiting.”

This chapter of his life also crossed over with a three-year stint in Bristol, which was particularly mind-broadening for Mucci, at a time when local labels such as Livity Sound and Timedance were establishing a new UK techno blueprint. The “cross-pollination” of musical scenes in the city – “drum & bass people would go to events to listen to dub or techno, and vice versa” – left him craving something more expansive in his own productions and DJ sets, having first taken up DJing when he caught the dubstep bug.

His 2017 EP ‘Lume’, released by Bristol’s Idle Hands label shortly after Mucci returned to Italy, remains his favourite record to date for that reason. “That was my turning point stylistically,” he believes. “There’s a house track, a downtempo track, an I-don’t-know-what track, but it all still very much sounds like me. I feel like I really started making music at that point.”

Photo of piezo standing amongst the leaves of a tree, holding a piece of orange fruit up to his eye

Mucci’s sound has continued to mutate ever since. 2020’s ‘Water Chamber’, for Bristol label No Corner, is a bare-bones exploration of dub, while his debut album ‘Perdu’, released that same year by the Italian imprint Hundebiss, allowed him to flex his production chops further. With little care for dancefloor functionality, it’s a shapeshifting trip through hypnotic polyrhythms, glitch-ridden drum & bass and scuzzy noise music.

More recently, Mucci has been having fun delving into the fast/slow conundrum of music that sits around the 100 BPM tempo zone. Two-tracker ‘Diamonds / Mattone’, again for Hundebiss, is a potent exploration of dancehall rhythms, as are two of the standout cuts – ‘Skinner’ and ‘Zap-ism’ – on last year’s five-track ‘Cyclic Wavez’ EP. Marking his debut for TSVI and Wallwork’s always reliable Nervous Horizon label, that record contains all the qualities – head-spinning sound design, propulsive dancefloor energy, punchy basslines – that make every new Piezo record a must-listen.

Last year’s ‘Odd Hooks’ 12-inch, meanwhile, is his “ode to the UK”, with its riffs on UK garage, UK techno and grime. “I’ve always been a huge fan of that music, and felt very connected to it while I was living in the UK,” Mucci says. “Living now in Italy – I moved back here around eight years ago – I lost touch with being there and experiencing it first-hand. I still have lots of friends back there, and still have this attachment to it all though. I wanted to give my own weird input into those sounds that are very important to me.”

That record arrived via his own Ansia label, which was launched in 2016 during Mucci’s final months in Bristol. Primarily a vehicle for his own material, he’s also used it as an outlet for the work of friends and various producers whose music he can be found playing in clubs on any given weekend – such as Facta, Metrist and BFTT – via a run of various artists EPs. The latest of those, ‘Fast Fists Fest’, is Ansia’s seventh release, and dropped last month.

It’s the first record on the label not to feature any of Mucci’s own music. Instead, the release takes a global focus, featuring tracks by producers hailing from four different continents, all of them sitting within the 150 to 160 BPM range. Hassan Abou Alam, whose music he’s been supporting since discovering the ‘Hope Against Despair’ EP on Bandcamp in 2020, hails from Cairo and contributes the bouncy ‘Ma3rafsh’. Austrian producer Toupaz serves up a metallic, frenetic roller in ‘Bona Fide’, part of a vast folder of unreleased tracks he’d previously shared with Mucci over email.

Hailing from Japan are the producers Oyubi and Y.a.M.A., who each contribute a cut to the record. Mucci describes the former as a “wonderkid”, and his track, ‘Tomy’s Siren’, is a dizzying trip through woodblock hits and dynamic bass rumblings. Y.a.M.A., meanwhile, is a proponent of Japan’s curious gorge music movement, often characterised by its use of tom drum percussion and a deeply-held love of mountaineering and the great outdoors. “Y.a.M.A. comes up with these crazy ideas with his music,” Mucci says. “The gorge music trend is very absurd and the percussive elements of it all really resonate with me and what I’m doing with Ansia. I had the pleasure of meeting both Oyubi and Y.a.M.A. in Tokyo when I was there last summer. I was so happy to find out that the feeling was mutual and they were into my music.”

‘Fast Fists Fest’ is rounded out by ‘Juke Lil Ma’, a jolting footwork collaboration between Chicago’s EQ Why and Traxman, both “legends” for Mucci. “I didn’t really know them before putting together this release, so I awkwardly got in touch with EQ Why asking if he had anything to release,” he says. “I’ve been following their music for a long time, so I’m really happy to release that.”

Aside from a fair share of DJ gigs, the remainder of Mucci’s year is to be spent working on a new album. Hoping to leave behind the “OCD tendencies” that have considerably slowed down his studio process in the past, he’s aiming to be more spontaneous in his approach to production. “I want to be more vibey, still with the crazy sound design, but maybe there’s no need to be obsessive,” he says. “Maybe now, having put out quite a lot of records, people are aware of what I can do, and so now it’s time to be more instinctive.”

Listen to Piezo's Recognise mix below. 


Die Fantastischen Vier ‘Krieger (Aphex Twin Baldhu Mix)’
RVE ‘虫草FIRE Edit’
Tammo Hesselink ‘Cupboard Cylinder Salon’
Big Hands ‘Swggn’
Holloway ‘Trinco’
Raj ‘Kas’
Mike Parker ‘Neural Spines’
or+be ‘Protocole’
Soreab ‘Jamma’
Genotype ‘Version’
Badawi ‘Turbo Auto Drive’
JuLo & Censored The Audio ‘Blunt Flex’
Wrk.dat ‘Basil’
Doctor Jeep ‘Silencio’
Vardae ‘Feel The Grass’
Sun People ‘No Leader, No Command’
Massacooramaan ‘Aww Shit! (feat. DJ Rashad)’
Y.a.M.A ‘Vroom’ (out now on ANSIA)
Oyubi (unreleased)
Carré ‘Glowing’
DJ Earl (Teklife) ‘Open Up’
Tasoko ‘Arc’
Yuto Takei ‘Oriental Microscope (Konduku Remix)’