In the landscape of French electro-acoustic music, Kristoff K. Roll stands as one very unusual object. Long-lasting associations are rare in this field, but the originality of this duo goes beyond that: they blend standard electro-acoustic music on support media with live improvisation. Moreover, the group's taste for travel, different cultures, and sociopolitical commentary give the music a much more engaging form than the colder works coming out of academic circles. It's poetic and it's food for thought. Kristoff K. Roll is one of the most beautiful musical UFOs brought forth by the legacy of Pierre Schaeffer's musique concrète.
Carole Rieussec and Jean-Christophe Camps were both born in the 1960s, 5,000 kilometers apart. They both studied acousmatics in Lyon with Denis Dufour, but they missed each other by only a couple of years. Both began to work in electro-acoustic music in the late '80s (Rieussec worked with Luc Ferrari from 1988 to 1995 at the studio La Muse en Circuit). In 1990, they ended up in the same group, Les Arènes du Vinyle, a Parisian improv sextet. They struck a professional and personal relationship almost immediately and formed Kristoff K. Roll by giving their joined first names a mutated spelling.
From the start, the duo focused on pidgin approaches to sound-based music, be it looking for ways to expand the use of the musique concrète studio and bring it to the stage or to explore other cultures. In December 1990 they traveled to Central America, coming back to Paris a month later with their bags full of recorded sounds. They worked on Corazon Road, their audio travel diary, for two years, releasing the suite in 1993 (reissued by Empreintes DIGITALes in 1999). This piece respected the tape music format. Another trip, this time to Western Africa in 1994, provided the basic material for Le Petit Bruit à Côté du Coeur du Monde, in which Kristoff K. Roll explored exotic phantasms and the traditional oral form of communication. In each performance over the next seven years, they would "tell" the same story while integrating variations. Premiered at Musique Action in 1995, it has gone through nine different stages and has involved tape music, free improv, dance, and juggling. Two variations (5 and 7) were finally released in 2002 on Vand'oeuvre.
Using samplers, speaker systems, and an array of found objects and real-time electronics, Kristoff K. Roll also works with other improvisers, namely clarinetist Xavier Charles (their trio La Pièce came out in 1999), Lê Quan Ninh, Marc Sens, Pascal Battus, and fellow electro-acoustician Laurent Grappe. Rieussec and Camps occasionally perform solo, but most of their energies and creativity are focused on their duo.