"Yes mon, yes I-yah, outta space!" invokes Afro-Germanic ragga toaster Tikiman on My Sound´s eponymous opening track. And there´s no more appropriate location to place Stefan Moerth´s (a.k.a. Stereotyp-pronounced "stereotype") album than in the cold, boundless expanses of deep space, surrounded by gravity-sucking planetary bodies and pulsing stars. Moerth´s sparse broken-beat ragga music is equivalent to the airtight darkness of space. It´s strange to consider, then, that My Sound was recorded at Moerth´s summer home outside of Vienna, Austria, in a former wine-growers domicile, old and rustic with an inert sense of peacefulness.
Everything about Moerth´s music is unconventional. It encompasses influences recent and ancient, from Jamaican ragga to German minimal techno, from ´80s R&B; to Central Europe´s downtempo sound. The latter genre is not as much of an overt influence as you might think for an artist signed to Kruder & Dorfmeister´s chill-central imprint G-Stone. Instead, Moerth opts to transform all of these influence into his own language, his own sound.
What is his sound? Well, using dancehall´s "jump up" or kick-kick-snare combo as a root for most of his work, Moerth adds earthy singers and MCs, eerie filters and effects on his array of already-moody synths, then com presses the fuck out of his off-beat rhythmic patterns. As an Austrian kid who spent five years in New York absorbing dancehalla nd other fusion sounds, he explores a delicate balance between Vienna´s syrup-slow jazz and Kingston´s fast-moving ragga productions. But is this realy his sound?
No. And Moerth knows this. He owes much to the Jamaican musical undercurrent present in Austrian, German and French clubs and radio for the past three decades. Moerth has also willfully made room on all his productions for the inclusion of vocalists, including Rhythm & Sound´s Tikiman, Oakland-based mic-chatter DJ Collage, the rock-stone voiced MC Trigger and honey-vox of Colee Royce and Cesar. It´s these vocalists who round out Moerth´s intentionally minimal and taut music: they bring to the table heartfelt soul (Hubert Tubbs garagey "Tell Me"), Waterhouse-style sing-jaying (Sugar B´s excellent techno-dub number "Royal Jelly") and good-time reggae bashment vibes (Collage´s warm and bubbling "All Di Girl Come").
It was vocalist and MC Tikiman´s work on Germany´s minimal-dub Burial Mix label and the reconstructionist sound of artists like Pole that kick-started the current wave of interest in expanding dub reggae and dancehall´s boundries. Stll, Moerth put all these pieces together in commanding fashion on an album that only gets better with each listen.
On first listen you´ll bemusedly say, "Ahhh, OK." Second listen: "I´m feeling this." By third listen, you´ll have found a favorite track that must be heard ten times in a row on repeat. On fourth listen, you´ll be singing along with Tiki-"Dis a real true sound revelation"-and the album will have then seeped into your skin, bone and cerebral cortex. This is an album whose influences and variety are broad yet familiar. By the fifth listen you will make them your own.
His sound? No, our sound.