As reggaeton soars to the top of global pop charts, Luis Garban (Cardopusher, Safety Trance) brings the darker sounds of the Latin underground to the edge of the spotlight. The Venezuelan born, Barcelona based DJ, artist, and producer has spent the last decade translating a subcultural story into music, beginning with the Caracas IDM and experimental scenes of the 90’s through a transatlantic engagement with breakcore. In our current era of fragmenting genres and frictionless cultural exchange, Garban’s syncretic practice has taken him from aggressive sets at the world’s best techno clubs to the Grammy Awards for his collaborative productions.
The Cardopusher project is oriented towards subterranean dancefloors, with releases on the labels EVAR, Dark Entries, Boysnoize Records and Veyl, among others. Driven by EBM, acid, and Italo, the tracks deliver an infectious, menacing energy, making them favorite weapons for techno, electro and industrial DJs alike. One can hear Garban’s Latin roots in the unconventional, syncopated percussion, and his exceptional sense for atmosphere and timbre is also expressed in the deconstructed reggaeton of Safety Trance. Originally an alias under which Garban produced for other artists, Safety Trance’s experimental, noise-informed approach to the genre found a compatriot - of both nationality and sensibility - in fellow Venezuelan Arca. The two worked extensively together in the studio sessions for her KiCk series of LPs, with Garban co-producing the singles “Prada/Rakata,” “Tiro,” “Queer” (featuring Planningtorock), and “KLK,” representing his two homes of Caracas and Barcelona through a collaboration with eight-time Latin Grammy winner Rosalía. As Garban’s work with Arca is nominated in this year’s Latin Grammy Awards, he may soon claim a win of his own.
Roles were reversed in 2022 with Safety Trance’s debut single, “El Alma Que Te Trajo,” this time with Arca as the supporting feature. The track melds fierce trance synths with punishing reggaeton, and Arca shocks with a sexually-charged, machine gun fire flow that may be her most savage performance yet. Racking up millions of streams, “El Alma Que Te Trajo” and the four track EP “Noches de Terror” that followed gave the world an explosive introduction to Safety Trance’s industrial dembow. Garban, however, still has plenty more to say as Cardopusher. On his forthcoming mini-LP Immaculate Poison (EVAR Records), Cardopusher flexes a new confidence in his mastery of sound design, speeding through haunting sci-fi soundscapes while slicing up hard techno, hard trance, breakcore, and gabber with a sharp, silicon edge. Immaculate Poison is explicitly not Grammy Award material; rather, it is a frenzied ode to an underground whose energy still drives Cardopusher and Safety Trance forward. From Caracas to Barcelona, reggaeton to rave, there have always been two sides to Luis Garban. When creating soundtracks for dark futures has brought you to a bright one, it’s a duality Garban gladly accepts.