Posts Tagged With: stefan christoff

Rêves Sonores À Montréal – Stefan Christoff & Nick Schofield

Canadian Pianist and composer Stefan Christoff teams up with fellow Canadian Nick Schofield for the release of their collaborative album effort ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ (Sound Dreams in Montreal). The new album offers up an electronic ambient album experience, utilizing Schofield’s experimental electronic ideas and teaming them up with Christoff’s gentle piano accompaniments. The result of this partnership offers up an interesting album, one that is at times, quite thought provoking in terms of how its instrumentals, and the techniques used to create them, result in music that is for the most part, rather emotional, but also one that is incredibly relaxing.

‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ features many elements of a conventional ambient album, though there’s many elements and ideas at play that make the record feel anything but. Unconventional techniques and concepts work their way seamlessly into the shared vision of Christoff and Schofield, everything combining together into a cohesive album experience. Both Christoff and Schofield use their own respective talents to guide the album’s musical motifs in ways that highlight each other’s techniques, whilst also working well with each other to create an album experience. Everything results in a very enjoyable musical voyage, one that bursts forth from the incredible amounts of creativity from the two musicians.

Whilst the collaborative effort between the two artists results in a very cohesive and understandable album experience, there’s still a few instances, techniques and ideas that push the album into an unusual and inaccessible territory. Those expecting an ambient-styled album similar to the work of Brian Eno or even Stars of the Lid will most likely find ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ to perhaps be a little bit more than they bargain for, though those who enjoy music with much more of an experimental slant than the norm will find Christoff and Schofield’s collaborative effort to be an incredibly enjoyable album experience.

‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ isn’t the most conventional of album experiences, though it is one that can be more easily tapped into by most people, even with its experimental slants here and there. Christoff and Schofield’s respective talents combine effortlessly into a wonderful album experience, one that is perhaps one of Howl! Arts most enjoyable releases thus far. Christoff and Schofield both seem to have tapped in together into an equally shared vision on ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’, both complimenting each other with their own musical motifs, resulting in one wonderful album experience.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Altitude
  • Generation I
  • Tempête
  • Haunted Lands

Stefan Christoff & Nick Schofield’s latest album ‘Rêves Sonores À Montréal’ is out now, available on Howl! Arts.

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Wire Tones EP – Stefan Christoff & David Parker

Wire Tones ep cover

Musicians Stefan Christoff & David Parker team up for the release of ‘Wire Tones EP’, a short recording inspired by concerns over expansions of prison complexes in Canada. This rather short recording offers up semi-improvised music, featuring Christoff on piano and Parker on contrebasse. The recording sees the musicians utilizing samples to great effect, with the main focal point of the EP’s second track being an incredibly passionate speech by Kim Pate from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. ‘Wire Tones EP’ showcases the wonderful musical talents of both artists, as well as their ability to present incredibly passionate music about issues that are incredibly important to them.

‘Wire Tones EP’ seems to expand upon previous ideas and concepts we’ve seen before by Christoff, mostly in how the music offers up a gentle and relaxing tonal soundscape, backed up by a strong political message. Both Christoff and Parker contribute wonderfully to their shared vision on the EP, both utilizing their respective talents in very strong ways. Unlike previous releases by Christoff, where political ideas and notions are presented purely through instrumental music, ‘Wire Tones EP’ utilizes a sample from Kim Pate to help push forward the political message behind the EP. The sample works incredibly well alongside the wonderful music by Christoff and Parker, helping us as listeners to gain a greater understanding of the worries being felt by these artists. It’s arguable that the choice to use samples, instead of relying purely on the instrumental music, perhaps hurts the EP’s appeal, though the choice do to so seems to work incredibly well.

Christoff & Parker’s ‘Wire Tones EP’ is perhaps a little unconventional in some areas, though it works wonderfully as a great expression of talent, and an expression of important issues. It’s easy to see that the main issue being pushed forward by Christoff & Parker is an issue that means something to the both of them, which comes across well on the EP itself. ‘Wire Tones’ is incredibly short in some respects, though it offers up a lovely musical journey, and one that is also rather thought provoking.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Shifting Skies
  • Beyond Injustice (Feat. Kim Pate from the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies)
  • Shafts of Light

Stefan Christoff & David Parker’s latest release ‘Wire Tones EP’ is out now and available through Howl! Arts Records.

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Pодина – Stefan Christoff & Osama Shalabi

родина - album cover

Montreal-based pianist Stefan Christoff combines forces with Shalabi Effect & Land of Kush’ Osama ‘Sam’ Shalabi, to create their latest collaborative effort. The collaboration of both musicians results in their latest album effort titled ‘Pодина’ (Rodina). The album sees Christoff combining his own jazz-orientated style of piano with Shalabi’s playing of the Oud, to create a very intimate and incredibly creative album experience. Made up of two tracks, with two solo interludes from the two musicians, ‘Pодина’ is an incredibly rewarding album experience that seems to shake the boundaries of truly conventional music.

The combining forces of Christoff and Shalabi results in a perfect match of two musicians. Both Christoff and Shalabi offer an incredible amount on ‘Pодина’, with both performing their own individual instruments to perfection. The music present on the album is nothing short of beautiful, with the sheer talents of the two musicians coming through in phenomenal style. The album sees the two musicans collaborating on two different tracks that both span over ten minutes in length, giving both Christoff and Shalabi ample opportunity to express themselves, and the themes and ideals being presented by the music itself. Both the two compositions offer an incredible amount in terms of music and creativity, and both contribute towards the overall album brilliantly. The two solo compositions also offer a beautiful insight into Christoff and Shalabi’s own personal styles and nature. What’s wonderful is the partnership between the two musicians, who spend the whole album contributing towards the album’s experience, both working together, rather than for themselves.

If any criticisms are to be found on ‘Pодина’, it is arguably in the difficulty the album presents. The album is musically wonderful, though it’s at times, very hard to really understand what it is that Christoff and Shalabi are presenting when it comes to their music. It’s arguable that the two solo compositions are easier to understand, but even then, are we really understanding it at all? It gives ‘Pодина’ a very complex and deep nature that can be hard to penetrate, and the only real answer available is the ones that come from Christoff and Shalabi themselves.

‘Pодина’ is at times a complex album, though it is also one that can easily be appreciated in a musical sense. Although the album features very deep themes and natures that run throughout the album. There’s a wonderful personal nature being presented by Christoff and Shalabi that makes the album a very intimate yet enjoyable experience. It’s an album that is perhaps not the easiest one to get into, though it is one that delivers in many aspects. ‘Pодина’ is a brilliant combination of two incredibly talented musicians, and we can only hope that the two will one day partner up again and once again write more beautiful music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Vardar River Song
  • To Sophia
  • One Oud
  • Along Treska

Stefan Christoff & Sam Shalabi’s latest album ‘Pодина” is out now and can be purchased at: http://howlarts.net/rodina

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Temps Libre – Stefan Christoff

The stunning experience that is ‘Temps Libre’ is a musical story comprised of four instrumental tracks, capturing a story from an incredibly charged and for Stefan Christoff, an emotional time in Canadian history. Drawing heavily from the student movement in 2012, the EP helps capture the emotion and the various stages of intensity that was present during these times. ‘Temps Libre’ is at times a fairly downplayed music experience, with a highly improvisational element. The EP features Christoff on the piano, accompanied by Brahja Waldman on alto saxophone, and Peter Burton on contrabass, who all play an incredibly active role in the EP’s shape and sound. It is instrumental jazz music that seems to have been designed to be experienced, (though it is at the same time highly listenable). There’s a wonderful sense of creativity and talent that exudes through the instrumentals, making for an incredibly thoughtful experience.

‘Temps Libre’ is a somewhat short EP, comprised of four tracks simply titled ‘1-4’. The only clues as to the song’s identities are the history surrounding the recording and influence of the album. Stefan Christoff insists that ‘Temps Libre’ draws influence from the emotional intensity of the Quebec student riots, which when the EP is listened too, definitely seems to be the case. There’s some incredibly interesting elements to the music on the EP, with a lot of emotion coming through in the music. It feels like there’s a sense of struggle for justice coming through well in the music that seems to resonate with the history that has helped influence the record. It’s an interesting EP, where the music comes across as being highly creative and interesting, whilst being something that is simply listenable. There’s an element of improvisation on the music, as though the musicians aren’t 100% sure of how the music is going to end up sounding in the end, but also having some kind of idea of what direction the music will ultimately be going in. It forms a major part of the appeal of the EP which remains to be an incredibly interesting instrumental experience that takes many different unexpected twists and turns that are to an extent fairly unpredictable.

The main problem I can see with ‘Temps Libre’, is that it is a somewhat challenging EP, and one that is almost hard to truly understand unless the history behind it is understood and considered. It makes ‘Temps Libre’ a fairly polarizing album as there’s elements on the EP that may be hard to understand if one doesn’t know, or is perhaps simply not interested in the history. It is also fairly sparse for a musical experience, as there’s many gaps between notes that are fairly lengthy. It’s music that to some extent isn’t the most accessible, and therefore may not spark the interests of all those who choose to listen to it.  It is also music that is somewhat hard to truly understand, as the message is clearly present in the music, but it seems to take time for it to be understood, providing one is willing to allow it to in the first place.

Overall though, Stefan Christoff has produced a marvelous EP that is an incredibly conscious effort to capture what is to Christoff an incredibly charged and emotional time. There elements of jazz music combined with an incredibly creative effort has produced an incredibly interesting EP that seems to be going unnoticed these days. It’s a shame, as it is at the base of what it is, simply just music. It’s interesting to listen too for many reasons, not just for the story behind the EP’s creation, but also for purely how the EP sounds and has been arranged. It might turn out to be one of the most under-rated musical releases of this year, though one that is highly rewarding for those who enjoy creative music.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Stefan Christoff’s EP ‘Temps Libre’ is out now and can be purchased from the Temps Libre website available at: http://howlarts.net/temps-libre

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