La Lumière Du Soleil Dans Un Semi Sous-sol is the third duo release with my friend Stefan Christoff. Each release has been its own project and the results are quite distinct. Les Rumeurs was made to document the Quebec student strike of 2012, comprised of field-recordings of protests and street actions we’d made independently, and tape loops of Stefan’s piano playing that I manipulated and processed. Our second collaboration, Temps de Travail, explored the arrhythmia of living out of phase with the traditional 9-5 lifestyle. That tape also reflected the sound that had developed out of our live performances, featuring Stefan playing piano and guitar and myself manipulating field-recordings and playing a synth app. But that tape also featured extensive editing and some overdubs and post-production. The same day that we finalized the mixes for Temps, we returned to Stefan’s ground-floor apartment and recorded what would become La Lumière Du Soleil Dans Un Semi Sous-sol, a raw document of our process of live improvisation. Stefan played an electric organ and I played a synth app and manipulated a portable cassette recorder, processed through a delay pedal and a looper. We set up a stereo mic, agreed on a few notes, and improvised.
Unlike our first two projects, we had no overarching concept guiding us, no political or social message, just a relaxed afternoon jam session between friends. Some samples from this original recording appeared in our live performances in Boston and Montreal in December of 2018. I had been planning on capturing some more recordings of Stefan’s organ and developing some material further, but the pandemic made that unfeasible. Early in January of 2021, I revisited that recording, chopped it into discreet sections, and changed their sequence. Stefan made some tweaks and chose the titles. Our friend Renato (kNN) in Napoli mastered this release, which has been published on CD by the Macedonian label Élan Vital. We’ve commissioned a few videos to accompany these tracks, which will be added to this post as they are premiered. We hope to be able to organize an outdoor performance in Montreal this summer. Thanks for listening.
Sounds record a moment, a sliver of time in the cosmos on earth. Joseph’s field recordings recall visits to other places on the globe, recalling memories and the ways that our memory mixes with dreams, it is complicated, actually. Stefan is playing an old organ here, one gifted by Bashar, a Palestinian friend who works with a moving company in the city, the organ was going to be thrown out, so Bashar came by to gift the old organ. Stefan also is playing an acoustic guitar. This recording is based on an exchange in sound and also an exchange in friendship, in experimentation and recalling stories of generations past by two sound artists who grew up on Turtle Island, but have roots in the Mediterranean.
Stefan Christoff plays music, creates media and is a community organizer. Playing piano, organ and guitar Stefan is a multifaceted musician who also works in soundscapes. He has collaborated with many musicians and has releases coming out this year with Lori Goldston and Sam Shalabi. Hosts a weekly community radio show on CKUT 90.3fm called Free City Radio. Stefan has also been deeply involved in social justice movements and campaigning against colonial capitalist systems of injustice, from Turtle Island to Palestine, but also in the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement in support of Palestinian liberation. Lives in Montréal, studying history at Concordia University and has Macedonian roots.
Joseph Sannicandro is an artist and writer based in Montréal. Working with field-recordings and various recording media, his soundscapes explore the relationship between sound, positionality, and place. As a scholar, his work explores creative labor and (un)popular culture, encompassing the philosophy of technology, media theory, and institutional critique. In addition to his duo with Stefan Christoff, Joseph also records under the moniker the new objective and under his own name, as well as with the Anarchist Mountains Trio. He is co-founder of the music blog A Closer Listen, and producer of Sound Propositions, a series of audio documentaries profiling musicians and sound artists.
Improvised live session recorded on an afternoon in July 2018 at Spiro’s space.
Mixed and edited in January 2021 by Joseph Sannicandro and Stefan Christoff.
Mastering: Renato Grieco, KU Studio, Napoli
Cover images from family archives of Stefan Christoff; photos taken in Macedonia 1958.
Cover design: Toni Dimitrov
Video: ‘Orbiting Mercury in a Dream’ by Guillaume Vallée; ‘A Window Memory in Alphabet City’ by Samer Najari
Guillaume Vallée – “Orbiting Mercury in a Dream”
Samer Najari – “A Window Memory in Alphabet City“
“A Window Memory in Alphabet City” on Underground Sounds radio on CKUT 90.3 FM – Montreal (3 May 2021)
“Orbiting Mercury in a Dream” on Sleepwalking on CKCU 93.1 FM – Ottawa (6 May 2021)
Destination OUT on WFMU 91.1 FM – NY/NJ (May 2021)
Full album played on Radio alHara – Palestine (May 2021)