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.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
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