Music Fiction

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The debut full-length from Etienne Stehelin, aka Rithma, is a warm, sweet-tempered and generally rather languid exploration of trip-hop, acid jazz and house beats and textures, all of it unified by his penchant for rolling rhythms, jazzy themes and sly samples. It's surprising that the tracks on Music Fiction manage to be so relaxing, while at the same time remaining consistently interesting. On highlight tracks like "Return" and "Gravity Bouncer," Rithma manages to give his beats a funky edge without making them so rhythmically compelling that they force you out on the dancefloor against your will, and the saxophones, muted trumpets and electric piano parts give the compositions a touch of jazzy sophistication without making them sound so hip that you question your worthiness to listen to them. As for the samples, well, that sounds a lot like Van Morrison declaiming in the background on "Down in a Funk," while the aptly titled "New Noise Experiment" combines nighttime cricket chirps with what sounds suspiciously like recycled film music. This is quite an impressive debut.

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