The Christoff brothers have roots in the Macedonia/Bulgaria area dating back to Ottoman times. They’ve cultivated connections in there, and were even able to find family records in Istanbul. Imagine that! My experience in the records archive in Napoli was very different… My family comes from all over southern Italy, but with some older roots in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, and I think the three of us have bonded over these Mediterranean connections.
The three of us got together and improvised for two hours in August 2019, shortly after I moved back to Montreal from Napoli. Jordan lives on Vancouver Island out west so he was just in town for Mutek. We gathered in Stefan’s half-basement apartment on a warm summer day with little planning. We agreed on some key pitches and improvised, then agreed on some new pitches and improvised again. I’m mostly playing an MC 303 and pedals that had been in storage, that I hadn’t touched for 16 months. And samples on an SP 404. No laptops or anything. Straight to the recorder. Jordan plays synth pads via an Elektron synth I think, and Stefan is playing electric guitar, sometimes with an ebow I lent him that day.
I finally cut those sessions up during quarantine, Stefan made some tweaks and a remix track that makes up the b-side and voilà. all improvised, no additional overdubs or post production.
It’s funny, the three of us are each very different. Stefan has been in Montreal for twenty years and mostly plays piano but his guitar playing has always been in that style and it really does evoke those classic images of Montreal. Jordan is from the west coast so he brings these positive vibes and the beautiful ambient chillness to the improv. And I just kinda dirty it up.
Thanks to Angel and AMEK Collective.
Samer Najari. – “Conspiracy Means Breathing Together”
Charline Dally – “But Who, We”
Beep beep, goes my email, all day long. There is always a question to answer, an error to correct. Today, however, I had enough and should do what I know for many years is the best thing and that is to close the email program and take a dedicated moment every few hours to open the program, answer everything and close it again. I then made some tea (doctors orders!), picked up the second issue of Comfort Club, switched on the latest two releases by Amek Collective, sank back in a chair and started listening and reading. First, there was the Anarchist Mountains Trio, an actual trio of Jordan Christoff (synthesizer), Joseph Sannicandro (field recordings, electronics) and Stefan Christoff (electric guitar) and I sank back into a state of tranquillity. Finally! It was recorded on a summer’s day in Montreal and the six pieces are some absolutely gorgeous ambient spaces. A carefully constructed small orchestral sound exudes from these instruments, the guitar sounds like a cello, there are some bell sounds from the synthesizer and the field recordings are from a pastoral small village. Refined, lush textural music that came in like slow sea waves, coming, going, coming and going. It had that minuscule bits and pieces of experimental sound that makes this stay away from the ages, new and old. Those mechanical repetitions in ‘Conspiracy Means Breathing Together’ are an example of that. This is sixty minutes of pure sonic bliss, along the lines of Stars Of The Lid, but then even more spaced out, especially the side long ‘Wodka (rework)’; not my preferred drink, as tea did a better trick. …there is something pleasant and even light with Anarchist Mountains Trio… (FdW)
I asked one of the trio: Are you really an anarchist? Do you live in the mountains? He responded: “both are influential 💛💃🏻💛” This is just a gorgeous release, with those influences looming large. Yes it’s ambient but look at the track titles and you see what motivates these guys. “Momentary transcendence.” A combination of field recordings, beautiful ambient synth work and guitar.
When you think “anarchist mountains,” you’re thinking huge, am I right? Massive geographical formation, towering in the sky, and not beholden to anyone’s rules. Punk weight, right there on the face of the planet, in everyone’s line of sight. Well, Anarchist Mountains Trio, a trio (duh) consisting of brothers Jordan and Stefan Christoff and joined here by Joseph Sannicandro, are even more anarchist than you think: instead of vying for your attention with a sound as big as their name, something of the ear-splitting variety, they 180 that thought into the quiet spectrum, turning inward, not beholden to anyone’s rules, even their own. Or something like that.
And thus La terre et la force, or “Land and strength,” understands the limitations of how humans relate to things that are bigger, older, and relatively incomprehensible. Again, instead of tectonic sounds to shock the system, the trio approximates the movement and the scope and the energy of the growth of something like the mountain range of their moniker over millions of years and distills that vision, one clearly observed from beyond a terrestrial position, into a graceful reverie. Don’t get me wrong, this thing is filled with awe – how can it not be – and the synths, guitars, and field recordings intertwine as if they were stardust reconstituting on the surface of the planet. You’re breathing these sounds and reveling in silence, never once considering that the air particles in your lungs are the size of continents. There really is some relativistic chicanery going on here!
But this is perfect for Amek Collective, beloved Bulgarian label. La terre et la force redefines the rules even as they’re being redefined, keeping everyone on their toes at all times and causing incomprehensible discombobulation – all while being as chill as chill can be. This one requires a deep dive – take it, I beg you. (Ryan)
Stefan Christoff (one half of the duo-turned-trio) reached out with a video premiere opportunity. This reminded us to finally listen to La terra et la force, and of course, we thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. The warm textures spread across the album’s six tracks capture a summer day spent in Montreal, and the video that DC is so fortunate to premiere this morning provides some visual accompaniment to that day..
‘Conspiracy Means Breathing Together’ is the first single from “La terre et la force” a full-length album by Anarchist Mountains Trio. The piece is a part of a subtle, beautifully paced album, written and recorded in a summer day in Montréal, Canada. On this recording Anarchist Mountains, usually a duo of brothers Stefan and Jordan Christoff, are joined by Joseph Sannicandro.
Within the carefully yet intuitively orchestrated layers of ‘La terre et la force’ one hears Sannicandro contributing electronics and street sounds from his travels around the world. The delicate synth scapes are courtesy of Jordan Christoff, while his brother Stefan explores rawer guitar tones driven by volume boosts, that he first experimented with in teenage punk bands. ‘La terre et la force’ by Anarchist Mountains Trio will be released on February 15 via Bulgaria’s Amek Collective on tape limited to 66 copies and digital.
“But Who, We,” is from the album and was shared with artist Charline Dally who worked on this beautiful video, Charline writes:
“As I let myself be carried away with my eyes closed by the dreamy and vaporous atmosphere of the piece But Who, We, I saw floating images, soft and aquatic movements, such as blurred and evanescent visions that appear in dreams. I decided to link the synth waves of the composition to shots recorded in Percé, Gaspésie, which have been then processed with different analog mixing techniques and circuit bending, during a residency at Signal Culture (Owego, NY). It’s always fascinating to translate music visually, to establish links between an oscillator and a subtle light vibration, through the magic of montage which becomes like a synesthetic tool.”