REVIEW: Ribongia Breaks Through With New EP, ‘Escapisms’

Ribongia, an archaic Italian word meaning chaos, pandemonium, rowdiness, general mischief, is also the name of a Sydney producer who makes music very similar to that definition. His second EP, Escapisms, is comprised of six tracks that provide temporary escapes for the listener as much as they provide that chaotic, rowdy vibe his moniker defines. However, this EP is a lot more than that, as it is also indicative of a hard-working and ambitious man really hitting his stride. Escapisms is Ribongia, real name Antonio Rosselli Del Turco, coming into his own. 

Starting off with leading single Journeys, things are already off with a bang. The kaleidoscopic, dreamy synths that herald the start of the track also herald the start of the EP, like an opening sequence in a really insane jungle cartoon game. You feel like you’re falling into Ribongia’s world, where African sounds reign supreme and you’re just there for the ride. The track is such an all out jam, and served as the perfect comeback track for the Sydney producer late last year.

From here, we head Downstream, where things are shaken up just enough. Changing the pace, Ribongia delves further into his tribal, jungle mainstay sounds, opting for pan pipes and steel drums to accompany some authentic African chanting. According to his recent track-by-track review for Pilerats, he used actual field recordings from French radio/label Ocora, who had documented the “sounds of the French colonies in the African continent”. It’s this authenticity, and respect for the sounds he has such an affinity for that makes Ribongia’s music so special. He truly admires the sounds he works with, and it’s because of this that his music sounds so special- because he thinks it’s special.

Next, we have My Word, his most recent single. Teaming up with Hancoq from ESESE, this is one of his biggest tracks yet. Normally an instrumentals producer, employing vocals on a track was a big step for Ribongia. His tracks sound so complete that the absence of vocals isn’t even noted, but there is something about Hanoq’s boastful, confident braggadocio that I can’t get enough of. Still in line with his African roots he has already laid down, Ribongia struck musical gold teaming up with the rising rapper, who perfectly complements his bassy, tribal banger which sets up the next half of the EP perfectly.

From here, we have the almost industrial rave sounds of Oyo, racing and frenetic with its vocal chants chopped and changed over a rapid change of pace. This is actually my favourite track from the EP, and would serve as a highlight in a live setting as well. It’s remarkably different to anything else on the record, with it’s laser synths, tinkering beats and African drums all racing towards a goose bump inducing moment where he creates a call and response with his chant sample. It’s not your typical club banger, and stands out due to its lack of trap bass, providing a refreshing break before descending back into the chaos for the final two songs.

Another vocal feature makes up the second last track. Holler, featuring Sri Lankan/Australian rapper-singer-producer ELSZ. It would be remiss to draw similarities to M.I.A, as the only similarity they really share is their Sri Lankan heritage. Sounding like a sassy lady seducing you to “holler” at her, ELSZ’ soft voice fits perfectly over the surprisingly slowed down, relaxed track. However, lulling you into a false sense of chill, with about a minute to go, Ribongia snaps awake and quickly amps up the UK drum n bass influences to provide a bridge that thrusts you into the closer, Nomads du Niger. The footwork and trap infused banger is the ultimate closer, wrapping up the vast range of sounds we have just heard into one tight tune that goes hard.

Escapisms is an excellent release from a quickly maturing, ambitious producer. Ribongia handles his songs with care, and has worked hard to separate himself from the saturated trap club scene that has a stronghold on Australian dance music right now. Instead, he’s forged his own path, and Escapisms solidifies the groundwork he’s already laid out. It’s diverse, exciting, refreshing and most of all, fun. While the rest of the country and beyond may have slept on this guy before, with an EP like this now under his belt, he’s going to be hard to miss from now on.

Escapisms is out now via October Records.