Vito Ricci, another under-appreciated cool-dude of the mid-80’s New York underground scene. Only a few releases ever put out by the guy in the first place, and you’d better believe they are hard to find. Thankfully, Music From Memory are bringing out this double LP compilation! I Was Crossing a Bridge shows off all kinds of electronic skills, very nice.
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There will always be hidden gems of electronic music. These people tend to be revered for one of two reasons - either by their music being in line with current electronic trends such as the current 70s TV show cheese, or a unique aspect of their style which doesn’t obviously place them in time. Vito Ricci seems to be part of the latter, with a grounding in jazz and various experimental forms displayed through a wide range of electronic miniatures conveniently compiled 4 u on Music From Memory.
Spanning the ponderous, the sultry and the plain chill, I Was Crossing A Bridge shows you the many faces of Ricci and the many more faces of his technological arsenal. I’ll bet that if these folks ever had anyone round, they’d be eating off samplers and making their coffee with tape machines. I reckon a reel-to-reel could make a pretty good cup of coffee, it’s got stirring action for sure. The point is, Ricci clearly loves synths, and shows that he can use them here, the ones at the top of his pile, anyway. A collection itself doesn’t really impress, and it’s his phrasing of sequences of these sounds that makes his work so compelling - each instrumental part holds its own place in time, warm bits offset with thin violins with synth bass popping up every now and then, and repeat.
Lets have a look at a couple of extremes. ‘Riverflow Electronic’ contains some fragmented acoustic guitars with a light smattering of fizzy synth that Kieran Hebden won’t be able to resist sampling. There is a distant cascade of drum loops, like some memory of dimly-lit jazz trio jams, making this track a sort of abstract reconfiguration of an acid folk band. Starkly contrasted is ‘I’m At That Party Right Now’ with it’s muffled from-the-next-room house beat, and (presumably) Ricci murmuring sweet funky nothings in your ears - “ohhh right, I can feel it now” and “just blow your miiiind” pretty much sum up partying, but again with a unique wider perspective that can only be shared with Arthur Russell. This is one of the real gems.
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- I Was Crossing a Bridge by Vito Ricci
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