Music as a gift. Not a gift as in an innate talent, but something given to someone special. What could be more intimate and more appropriate, with this season of commercial excess and guilt euphemistically referred to as the holidays upon us? This is how Argentinian multi-instrumentalist and jazz-fusion composer Luka Lautaro Bellucca views his craft. Each song he writes has a long history and, more often than not, a face behind it. Via a combination of styles, he is able to convey his emotions toward a certain person or period in his life, expressing it through the lens of jazz.
Bellucca came to Taiwan along with fellow Argentinian composer and musician Martin “Musa” Musaubach two and a half years ago, after gigging around China with him for the better part of five years. Now 27 and already a seasoned session musician, Bellucca has been writing his own compositions since his mid-teens. But he had never gone all-in with his own band. With a little persuasion from Musa and from his wife, Paraguayan singer and harpist Olivia Berendsohn, Bellucca finally made the jump after coming to Taipei, and has been playing steadily with his own band, the Luka Group, performing songs that he wrote as far back as a decade ago. The songs are a tapestry of the various influences he has embraced in a lifetime of music, going back to his childhood in a home where his father was a rock guitarist, and his mother a classical pianist.
“Our mind now works like an iPod. You don’t listen to an entire album anymore. You listen to Meshuggah, then you move to Daft Punk. And when I write music, I do that. I just blend all the things that I like,” says Bellucca of his approach.
This from a man who counts among his many sources of inspiration tango, flamenco, and Argentinian folk, as well as the power groove of metal bands like Pantera, or even the technical brutality of Cannibal Corpse. All are incorporated into his compositions in subtle ways, with the overall goal of staying true to a jazz base while trying to make a genre that can be intimidating for the average listener accessible and enjoyable for all.
“You go to a jazz festival, there is a band playing a 25-minute song, nobody understands anything. Nobody is paying attention because they are doing something very weird for five people in the crowd. I’m trying to do music for everybody.”
The music might be for everyone, but often his songs are written for someone in his life. One, called El Joacko, was composed for his younger brother Joaquin, and was inspired by a simple, quiet afternoon they spent together in their family home; his brother reading a book while Bellucca played his guitar. As he explains, music is the most personal gift he has to give, and he is ready to share it with the world. With plans to hit the studio early next year, he hopes to have his first album out soon after and tour it around Taiwan, and later overseas.
“Music is like a boomerang,” he says. “You throw it the best you know, and in some way all that good energy will come back to you.”
■ Luka Group plays tonight at Sappho Live, B1, 1, Ln 102, Anhe Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市安和路一段102巷一號B1). The show starts at 9:30pm, and the cover charge is NT$200.
On Saturday, the first edition of what the organizers hope will become a yearly event, Decibel Music Festival (不只是分貝音樂節) will happen at Treasure Hill (寶藏巖). The fest is the brainchild of two bands, post-rock act Islanders (島嶼) and psychedelic trio Morphine Side (嗎啡隱私). The latter was formed just two years ago when keyboardist/vocalist/violinist Gwen Liu (劉孟庭) took out an ad online looking for collaborators, eventually getting in touch with guitarist and graphic artist Chris Lin (林仲禹) and drummer Lu Yo-hau (呂祐豪). Liu is classically trained, and had played in classical quintets and quartets before, but was interested in pursuing her own style of music with the aim of creating a vast, atmospheric sound that delves into complex emotions and situations through trance-like melodies.