Stefan Christoff and I have just released a new tape called Temps de Travail, Syncopé, the culmination of several live performances and radio presentations exploring the idea of our age of work and the rhythms of daily life structured around bartering our labor. If our first collaboration, les rumeurs de la montagne rouge en chœur, convergent, was an explicitly political reflection on the Quebec strike of 2012, the politics of this tape is much more implicit, much more about the everyday social experience of selling our labor-power. It juxtaposes the rhythms of commuting (by foot, bike, bus, train), the rhythms of the mechanical production (recordings made in a print shop in New Jersey where my father worked for decades), the silences of the overnight shift and the voices of those who live their lives just out of sync with the traditional 9-5.
released November 19, 2018 on MOON VILLAIN
Stefan Christoff : Acoustic Guitar, Piano
Joseph Sannicandro : Electronics, Synth, Ebow, Loops, Melodica, Production
Recorded in Montreal, QC January 2016
Mixed by Joseph Sannicandro
Mastered by John Perotti
Art and design by Scott Davison
more from Stefan Christoff & Joseph Sannicandro:
[all piano recordings on this release are from an old piano (early 1900s), with a cracked bass board, that was at Stefan’s apartment in Parc Ex. district in Montreal.]
Recorded in two sessions in Stefan’s apartment, Montreal, January 2016
Edited by Joseph in Minneapolis, September 2016
Additional overdubs, Minneapolis, August 2017
Final mix, Montreal, July 2018
|“Excellent.”||“It’s really good.”||“your tape is good brother, listening a lot at [rue] masson.”|
“Música para volar con alas de cartón sobre la ciudad en tiempos de tormenta invernal. Teniendo pequeñas luces como intermitentes compañeras de viaje.” (Music to fly with cardboard wings over the city in times of winter storm. With little lights as intermittent travel companions.)
– Amanda Ruiz
In a clever play on words, les temps (temperature) becomes time in the phrase, temps de travail (working time). The album offers a score to a cold work day, from overture “les travaux” (“jobs”) to finale “clock out”. Frost, ice and snow decorate the recording from beginning to end, the duo’s field recordings holding their own with their ornate instrumentation.
temps de travail, syncopé is the long-awaited follow-up to Stefan Christoff & Joseph Sannicandro’s 2014 album Les Rumeurs de la Montagne Rouge, En Choeur, Convergent. While that album was overtly political, the new set makes its points through inference alone. One may read headlines into the music ~ a cold political climate, a frigid job industry ~ or one may simply recall the fact that it’s winter in Montreal. To listen is to experience the trudge to work and through work, as well as the long, icy two-way commute. It’s enough to make one put on a sweater, even if listening at home.
And yet, despite all this, one also gains a feeling of winter’s beauty. The season is stark, but the woods are lovely, dark and deep. A clear line can be drawn to Pagetos, the classic winter album by Matteo Uggeri, Luca Nauri and Francesco Giannico. The guitar is patient, experimenting with notes, exhibiting no need to go outside. Electronic patterns shimmer like sunlight on snow. In “cyclic frost”, one can hear the rustling of metal objects, like ski equipment. “winter walks” includes the sound of construction vehicles, establishing then abandoning tempo, as if afraid to emerge from slumber. The very title of “SAD lamp” is a reminder of emotional stasis. And yet the duo continues to make music, scoring the scenery, confident in the upcoming thaw.
The title piece is separated into two parts and takes up half of the album, the second part clocking in at twenty minutes. Piano notes establish baseline harmonies as strings swirl like an outer whirlwind. But then, finally, the welcome sounds of the evening commute: workers emerging from offices, cheerful in conversation no matter how cold les temps. A tumbling spoken word sample speaks of “where to go” and “how to go”, offering its own impressionistic implication: that work and winter are not immutable concepts. They are what we make of them, and Christoff and Sannicandro have transformed them from conditions to endure into conditions to enjoy.
–Richard Allen (A CLOSER LISTEN)
Somehow we missed out on ‘Les Rumeurs De La Montagne Rouge En Choeur, Convergent’, the first release by Stefan Christoff (acoustic guitar, piano) and Joseph Sannicandro (electronics, synth, ebow, loops, melodica, production), which was released in 2014. That was “an explicitly political reflection on the Quebec strike of 2012”, but I am told there is fewer politics on this release, “much more about the everyday social experience of selling our labour-power”. They use the rhythms taped from commuting (foot, bike, bus, train are mentioned; not the car), along with
recordings made in a print shop, the silences of the overnight shift and “the voices of those who live their lives just out of sync with the traditional 9-5”. The music was already recorded during two sessions in Stefan’s apartment in January 2016, with the final mix from July 2018. Both sides contain one long piece, which is divided into smaller bits. It is not easy to guess what kind of music they play, based on these instruments and outlines, I guess. It has resulted in something quite beautiful. There are throughout various lines that run along with this. There are the guitar and piano sounds, slowly drifting in a slow manner. A bit post-rock inspired perhaps, yet there is an absolute absence of conventional percussion. Rhythm comes from the repetition in playing those instruments, but also from the looped sounds of daily activity; sometimes they run sounds for a longer period of time and it becomes one with the looped field recordings and the playing of the instruments. Throughout the music is peaceful at most of the times but also slightly unsettling with all those sounds from everyday action of men trying to get to work. Highly atmospheric music it is, even when sometimes the frequencies are relatively extreme, such as towards the end of the first side. It sounded all very Italian to me; reminding me of Fabio Orsi, 3/4Hadbeeneliminated and such like, incorporating real instruments in quite some abstract electronic setting. Beautiful release!
-Frans de Waard (VITAL WEEKLY)