Compilation of rare Italian house to be reissued by Mona Musique


The "dream house" sound is experiencing a revival of sorts at the moment with big names including Young Marco, Palms Trax and more helping to pioneer the rebirth of the sound. The latest digger to contribute to the movement is Nick V, a selective disc jockey with decades worth of experience digging through rare and dusty crates. The title is "House Of Riviera (1991-93". 

The new compilation features eight tracks and is described passionately by Nick V himself…

"In the early 1990s, Italy hosted one of the most prolific scenes in the burgeoning world of House music. Whilst the majority of Europe was only just beginning to digest the arrival of this new musical genre born in the US, Italian clubs, DJs and labels were hot on the heels of their counterparts in the already established scenes of New York and London. 

The clubs of the Adriatic coast – also known as the Italian Riviera – were principally concentrated around Rimini, Riccione and the neighbouring cities of Bologna and Florence. Venues like the Ethos Mama Club, Diabolik’a (the first original after-hours club in Italy), Vae Victis, Matis, Cocorico, Peter Pan, Kinki, Pascia’, Club Dei 99, Byblos and New York Bar were full every weekend with crowds gathering to dance long into the early hours of the morning. They regularly hosted live acts and guest DJs from the US and the UK as well as residents such as Leo Mas, Ricky Montanari, Flavio Vecchi, Ivan Iacobucci, Marco Trani, Luca Colombo, Alex Neri, MBG, Claudio Coccoluto,  Massimo Lippoli, Pastaboys, Dj Ralf, Massimino, Cirillo and Andrea Gemolotto.

Thanks to the strong legacy of the 70s and 80s Disco and Funk era in Italy, the domestic dance music industry and record distribution network was already well developed, paving the way for the arrival of House music in the late 80s. By the early 90s, Italian House music was regularly exported around the world with labels such as UMM, Zippy, D-Vision, MBG, Flying, Palmares, DFC, Irma – and its sublabels Antima and Calypso, releasing tracks inspired by the original New York House and Garage sound, but with a very different, unique and emotional take. Distinct from both Italo Disco and Italo House, this was the specific aesthetic that was to become the House sound of the Riviera, the soundtrack of the golden era of Italian House music.

It was Alex Neri and Marco Baroni’s Korda project ‘Move Your Body’ that first caught my attention in 1991, released on Palmares, and epitomising the uplifting, piano-driven, vocal House sound that was huge at the time. Alex Neri’s remix though, under the Alex Lee moniker, with its disco bassline and dreamy synths, was the track that summed up the riviera spirit (amongst many others yet to be discovered!). Searching for this specific sound was a quest that started there and then, and that still continues to this day, nearly 30 years later.

Successive visits to Italy, in particular to Rome and Rimini between 1993 and 1995, left their mark not only via the records that I brought back home but also through the radio shows recorded and the clubs visited, such as Cocorico and Echoes in Riccione. Tracks like Be Noir’s Balearic ‘Give Me Your Love’ that gained power play from Tony Humphries to become a club hit stateside, or the dubbier ‘Why’ by Syncopate and ‘Really’ by Underground Ghosts became essential personal favourites.

Towards the middle of the 1990s, a natural evolution saw many labels, such as UMM and Palmares slowing or shutting down, or choosing other musical directions. Key producers such as Ricky Montanari, Alex Neri, Enrico Mantini and Ivan Iacobucci moved on to other projects, and with time the Riviera House sound began to slip away like a forgotten memory…

As a DJ, however, I was never able to put the records aside. With the arrival of the Discogs marketplace in 2006 I was able to purchase fresh copies of old records and, bolstered by the advent of YouTube, further expand my collection with stand-out tracks such as the superb ‘Queensway’ by Subway Ground Master, the sensual ‘A Day With My Heart’ by Groove Sense and the Daydream mix of ‘Alright Alright’ by Centric House, which has become a regular feature in my sets. The online collecting was later completed by Tuscan summer digging sessions and visits to collectors during family holidays.

It was during those long summer drives on the roads of Tuscany, inspired by the records, the tapes, the club nights, the encounters and perhaps even the landscape, that the idea of this compilation came to fruition. The final track of the compilation is a joint pick with Edouard Isar, whose contribution has been essential to this project in terms of research, advice and support. In 2017, we traveled to Italy together to prepare this compilation, listening to countless DJ sets recorded during the Riviera years. One of those was by Ricky Montanari and opened with ‘Music, Harmony and Rhythm’ by Optik. Hearing this record whilst driving through the snowy mountains between Florence and Bologna was one of those ecstatic road-trip moments that made it the inevitable choice to round off the LP.

I would especially like to thank Cesare Cera and Ricky Montanari at Irma who shared their precious insight of the Riviera scene in the late 80s and early 90s with us, and who have only been supportive of the project since day one. I hope this compilation will give you an idea of how creative and exciting the Italian Riviera scene was at the turn of the 1990s, when House music started in Europe, and Italian producers and DJs were at the forefront."

The tracklist for the LP, which will be released on the 15th of May can be seen below:

A1: Groove Sense “A Day With My Heart” 
A2: Centric House “Alright Alright (Daydream Mix)” 
B1: Underground Ghosts ”Really” 
B2: Subway Ground Master " Queensway”
C1 : Syncopate “Why ?” (Underground)
C2 : Korda ”Move Your Body (Club Remix)”  
D1 : Be Noir “Give Me Your Love (New York Mix)” 
D2 : Optik ”Music, Harmony & Rhythm” 

An EP sampler will be released on the 23rd of April beforehand:

A1 : Riviera Traxx “I Have Got It” (exclusive to the EP)
B1 : Anxious “Tribal Love” (exclusive to the EP)
B2 : Subway Ground Master “Queensway”

Visit the Mona Musique soundcloud HERE. Buy HERE