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Best of 2020

Simon Cummings, 5:4, December 31, 2020
Monday, January 11, 2021 Press

I wasn’t previously aware of Canadian composer Joel Lavoie, but i’ve been returning regularly to his album Souvenir. over the last six months. The three parts bring together synths and field recordings; nothing particularly new about that combination but the results are difficult to categorise, though they tend towards the contemplative. Souvenirs intermittent is an ambient-like introduction, deep intoning notes cutting through the imaginary open air, allowed to swell in its second half to an intense dronal zenith. It’s striking, but the second and third parts are yet more impressive. Addendum pulls back to a mysterious combination of movement and stasis, always sounding poised to potentially unleash something enormous. What transpires is better than a mere climax: an extended plateau of majesty that i confess i wish lasted much, much longer than its few minutes — i think i could be borne aloft on beauty like this forevermore. Marche irréfléchie pulls back again, now descending into deeper climes; again its habitat is harmonically limited, but the range of details that emerge and recede within, and its varying dynamic shape, are marvellous to behold. Souvenir. is a superb demonstration of simplicity and complexity working together to create something that sounds almost totally different on each new listening.

… the range of details that emerge and recede within, and its varying dynamic shape, are marvellous to behold. Souvenir. is a superb demonstration of simplicity and complexity working together to create something that sounds almost totally different on each new listening.