Rithma (nee Etienne Stehelin) is the Zadie Smith of house music: there’s just no way in hell he should be so young (23) with such a damned mature artistic vision. Music Fiction is an utterly captivating musical ride. Stehelin is such a unique addition to the dance music firmament, it’s hard to envision a time when his star won’t shine. The man’s sound is singular and extraordinary. He almost defies comparison. He combines house with jazz and subtle touches of blues and rock in ways you haven’t really heard before. He has more spiritual kinships than actual influences. He loves bop like his French counterparts; uses that Miles muted trumpet to great effect like a Kozo or P’Taah and anybody else who’s ever heard On the Corner or In a Silent Way; and he loves the quirky effects much like a Herbert or King Britt’s Scuba persona. Yet, there’s never really a moment when Rithma gives an obvious nod to any of these folks.
What Stehelin has done at 23 is find his own voice. He has carved out his own vision that marries house with hard bop and a bit of smooth jazz. His sound is lush with dark, inky tones and a surprising infusion of joy. There’s almost a watery quality to the music•as though one’s swimming in the farthest depths of a Pacific Ocean dance party.
Music Fiction is a pleasant surprise, a clarion call of a debut. House producers and fans alike will definitely stand up and take notice.
Om Records: http://www.om-records.com/