Vito Ricci - I Was Crossing A Bridge

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  • Amsterdam's Music From Memory named their label after a Vito Ricci album, which shows how highly they regard the New York artist. Ricci is perfect for a retrospective: an overlooked figure in the mid-'80s downtown scene, he was a percussionist who dabbled in experimental jazz, spoken word, film scores and played in punk bands at CBGBs and Mudd Club. Between 1983 and '85, Ricci self-released a couple of cassettes and one album. His music was mostly made for experimental theatre and performance art, and it never caused any major ripples. But somehow the Music From Memory crew stumbled across Ricci's music. I Was Crossing A Bridge is a compilation that combines previously released material with never-before-heard tunes. The compilation's first 12-inch sounds like it was assembled using a particular studio configuration, one that favours clipped reverb and warmly glistening synths. There's a curious, exploratory feel to "The Ship Was Sailing," almost as if Ricci was making it up as he went along, cautiously fiddling with his machines until he came across something pleasing. It's not unlike other synth reissues of recent times—"Hollywood" and "Dub It," for example, could easily squeeze onto the 2014 Vangelis Katsoulis collection on Into The Light, the label run by Ilias Pitsios and Music From Memory's Tako Reyenga. But that's just one facet to I Was Crossing A Bridge. The A-side's final cut, "Riverflow (Electronic)," a gentle acoustic piece teeming with small details, shows there's more in Ricci's locker than minimal synth compositions. The first 12-inch's B-side is revelatory. One of its two centrepieces is "I'm At That Party Right Now," a muddy, dubby boogie tune with a wonderful vocal intoning the track's title. (The first time I heard it I had just finished listening to Workshop 21, and it struck me how compatible its mood is with that record, despite being 30 years older.) The B-side's other gem is "Cross Court," a funky piece of proto-house weirdness in the style of My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. The second 12-inch is mostly devoted to beatless compositions. It starts with "Deep Felt Music," a sweetly propulsive 12-minute epic. The sparse nature of the "Inferno" suite belies its origin as the soundtrack to a play. Sides C and D hover between emotionally rich moments and more detached experimentation, though it's hard to say which is which. Music From Memory is now six releases deep, and while I have no idea how many more obscure visionaries they've got waiting in the wings, it's hard to imagine a package that better sums up the label's purpose than I Was Crossing A Bridge.
  • Tracklist
      01. The Ship Was Sailing 02. Hollywood 03. Music In Fourths 04. Dub It 05. Riverflow (Electronic ) 06. Bachelor 07. Commie Stories (Part 5) 08. I'm At That Party Right Now 09. Cross Court 10. Getting There 11. Commie Stories 12. Centre Of The Bridge 13. Deep Felt Music 14. Inferno Part 1 15. Inferno (Part 3) 16. Dox E Koo (Solo Voice) 17. Inferno Part 2 18. The Bride