Andy Human and Sam Lefebvre began writing and recording Desire Choir in 2021. They biked to a West Oakland rehearsal space and tracked drums and bass to an old tape machine. It was an accretive process, initially disoriented from live performance. Influenced by a “communist interpretation of collective music” and the variable post-punk and dub combinations of the On-U Sound label, as they write in a pamphlet companion to the album, Non Plus Temps emerged as more singers and players sought affinity amid the pandemic-era social isolation and unrest.
The result joins various instruments (sax and saz, synths and bells) and production techniques in a sound like the “broken headlight sky” mentioned in “Endless Jetty Night,” the nervy, Residents-like meditation on coastal subduction zones closing the A-side. Album opener “Continuous Hinge,” with vocalist Amber Sermeno, is a backbeat beaded with Stanley Martinez’s electric viola, while “Facts Sound Like Myths” introduces pinballing dub paranoia. “Reversible Mesh,” they write, suggests a “self-conscious Eno affinity surrendering to Chrome.”
Human and Lefebvre’s companion text to the album also remarks on the title and band name: “‘Non Plus Temps’ is a garbledcurse on time, which we mainly experience in relation to the wage, whether or not we’re getting one. We’re all racing and raging against meaningless gig work. ‘Desire Choir’ refers to the production of wants and needs in capitalist society, which uses them against us, and the desire not to escape or avoid but to end this present state of things.”
The recording and live lineups of Non Plus Temps feature members of Naked Roommate, the World, Famous Mammals, and Preening, among other groups based in Oakland, California.