Riccio - Jungle Way EP / Fly By Night Music Special / Exclusive mixtape

The resilience of vinyl is truly phenomenal. The medium's death has been declared countless times, yet those 'in the know' might have noticed that things seem to have gone full circle with vinyl as of late. The unfathomable mass of new digital music and the obscene amounts of promos that get delivered to the inboxes of bigger names in the industry make it increasingly hard to get noticed for labels and budding producers alike. Disenchanted with this ever-growing digital swamp, a serious contingent of DJs bins digital promos straight away and just sticks to buying and playing vinyl. 

The latest development we've been witnessing is that labels stop relying on sending out mass digital promos and start sending out promotional records to a handful of carefully selected DJs and reviewers. Full circle indeed, seems like we're back in the 90s, where white labels and stencilled hype sheets were such a fixture. This approach may seem horribly outdated, but I can assure you - both from a label owner as from a reviewer's perspective - that there is no better way to get some decent exposure. Much like most record collectors can remember vividly where and when they bought each and every single piece of vinyl, one does simply not forget getting complimentary twelves in the mail. Yes, we are this dorky. Take Fly By Night for example. A little over a year ago we were sent the first 12" on the then newly minted imprint, an EP by Andy Ash we covered here. We've been staunch fans ever since. After a string of really strong releases by the likes of Deep Space Orchestra, Moodymanc and Giorgio Luceri, ranging from peaktime deephouse to lights-down-low dowtempo, label boss Lorenzo got in touch again to see if we were interested in a copy of the 6th release on the fledgling imprint by one Riccio. Needless to say, we eagerly let him know we'd be honoured to gets our grubby wands on the new release. The record - a lovely 12" in solid royal blue with handstamped paper sleeves - finally arrived a few days ago.

Getting sent records is not only a privilege though, it can also be a bit scary. What to do if the music isn't up to par, or not up one's alley at all? Luckily we're dealing with Riccio here, who rarely disappoints. If you've been keeping track of our ramblings on here, it should come as no surprise we are rather fond of the Italian maestro. Under the Supervalue guise he's done some of the best edits ever committed to vinyl, and his classy deephouse productions for the likes of Bosconi only add to his legacy. He's also an incredible DJ, which we got to witness firsthand when sharing the decks with the man in Copenhagen a few years ago, where he tore the club a new one with an absurdly good disco set. The 'Jungle Way EP' might just be the best thing Riccio's ever done too.

'Lil' Boy' on the A1 is a lush downtempo hiphop number with cut up soul vocals that would do Madlib and the late J. Dilla proud and wouldn't be out of place on one of Farina's Mushroom Jazz mixtapes. Kudos to FBNM for having the balls to slap a slice of hiphop on the A1 too. Title track 'Jungle Boy' on the A2 could best be described as a delicious moody tropical disco cocktail: steel drums, percussive elements and samples of some eerie chanting are layered over a lolloping dusty midtempo groove to great effect.

Flip over for Craig Smith's rejig of the same track, a stuttering deephouse excursion with lush tom drums and some clever sampling of James Brown thrown in for good measure. Perfect peaktime fodder for discerning dancefloors. Tucked away on the B2 is 'Cold Baby', a chunky, driving loopdriven disco edit-not-edit that will have you snap your neck like it's nobody's business. I picked up an EP by Julien Love a few weeks ago that came with an edit of the same source material with a great vocal ('You're so cold baby, and I'm hooot), but I haven't been able to track it down yet (yes, stuff like this keeps dorks like me awake at night). Riccio ditches the vocal entirely and solely focusses on the guitar-driven groove, which works a real treat (can't wait to play this on a decent system) but I can't shake the feeling this could have been a weapon of mass destruction with a juicy breakdown and bits of the vocal breaking through.

A special package this then, stupidly limited with only 200 copies available worldwide, so unless you want some boring binary files on your puter in the 'decent stuff sort later' folder which your mrs WILL accidentally delete at some point, best whip out your plastic or skip on down to your local record dealer if there's one around. Pick 'er up here before they're all gone!

While typing up this review it suddenly struck us: wouldn't it be fun to get in touch with FBNM's Lorenzo to get a feel for what made him set up the label and talk records? Because that's what dorks like us like to do. Talk records. Lorenzo was happy to oblige, so we got chatting about how he ended up in London and what makes him tick. As it turns out, Lorenzo was working for a small imprint and recording studio in Florence when he was offered the chance to do a one year course in music business in London. He'd been in london before for a University student exchange program.

"I had the chance to attend loads of parties in London, like Secretsundaze, a night called Trash at The End and Nag Nag Nag at Ghetto. Those parties really opened my eyes and heart to a new genre of music". 

Needless to say, Lorenzo never went back to his hometown Bologna, but stuck around after finishing his course and managed to bag a part-time job for Dave Lee's Z-Records. London proved to be the right environment to finally turn the long-cherished dream of setting up and running his own record label into reality.

"This city has so much to offer for music enthusiasts, from live gigs to club nights to record stores...Logistically it's very convenient too: I cut my records just 10 minutes from where I live (Curved Pressings - ed) and Kudos, our distributor isn't much further away". 

While finding a decent cutting engineer and a solid distro are conditions sine qua non in the wonderful world of releasing records, it's the music that makes people whip out their cards and actually buy the records. FBNM seems particularly hard to pigeonhole, with its output varying from moody beatdown to peaktime, driving deephouse.

'I like roller coasters I guess, that's why I end up going up and down all the time. There isn't a clearly defined philosophy behind the label or a specific genre I want to push. My idea is having a label as a catalogue, offering different styles. Keeping the output varied is a conscious decision. Some might argue that it'll mean a lack of identity, but at the end of the day I don't really care. I'm lucky to have some friends who make decent music, I hope I can help them get some exposure and maybe to get some gigs after the release. The term Fly By Night could be explained as something of a shaky or impermanent nature, which would be a good synopsis of the label's output". 

We were curious to find out how Lorenzo ended up signing Riccio's EP, whose strong disco orientation is a bit of a departure from FBNM's deeper and darker pastures. Them both being from Bologna meant they'd crossed paths before though.

"I've known Riccio since way back, we both come from the same city. The first time I met him he was working in his own record shop. I always had loads of respect for him and his music. I decided to sign this EP, which could best be described as 'exotic', in front of a nice steak 'Fiorentina' and a bottle of red wine. There's always a good story behind a record isn't there?"

We ended our chat by asking Lorenzo if he had any advice for kids out there that have dreams of one day starting a record label. (What is it about record labels that makes people want to own one? We sure as hell know it won't make you any money. And sadly, most women we meet have zero interest in records and the perks of analogue rotary mixers, so let us burst that bubble for you right here and now.) Luckily, Lorenzo has some sound advice for those of you silly enough to chase pipe dreams of starting new vinyl empires.

 "Don't start a record label. Go on holiday instead. Maybe Brazil. Or hang on a minute lads, Thailand is cool too! You won't have a penny to take your girlfriend to the restaurant, haha. In all honesty, finding a distributor who can represent your label in the best possible way is key, push vinyl as much as you can and maybe recoup some money from digital sales, but please please please if the release is worth it, put it out on a piece of wax. Don't spam your releases all over the please, but let people discover your music, think about original ways of promoting and presenting your records. Get in touch with decent blogs!" 

 Sound advice indeed, and the lovely packaging of Riccio's EP goes to show he's taking his own advice serious. Oh and thanks god there's someone out there that thinks there is still life left in good old fashioned music blogs. We'll wrap up this feature with a special gift: an exclusive mix by Riccio to support his new release. It's an incredible ride from tropical Turkish downtempo curveballs to lovely chugging disco. You'll find two of the tracks of his new EP in there too. Enjoy!


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