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Tom Lönnqvist - Noir [Mille Plateaux - 2021]

Finnish sound artist, Tom Lönnqvist, brings forth his latest piece, Noir, centred around night (more specifically Kaamos-Finish for polar night). Using modular synthesis to induce bodily sensations, the tones present on Noir work together with constructive and destructive interference to tell a tale both aurally and bodily. Building a rich base of interaction, the simple effect of interacting layers creates an interesting composition that is, at times, as thick as the Finnish Kaamos night.

Rich synthesis and layered interaction is the MO for Tom Lönnqvist and Noir. After four years of building his modular system, all the parts were in place to handle the task. The seven pieces on this release all work together, albeit separately, to create a thick, sometimes velvety sheet to look at, to feel, to hear, and to become enwrapped in. While the construction of these waves and layers is no doubt a complex process, they're produced in such a way to feel simple and approachable. The sounds being showered on the listener aren't cumbersome and unwieldy, but able to be ridden and in alignment with. Stuck somewhere between ambient, electronic, and experimental, Noir is even harder to pin down after repeated listens. And therein lies the beauty: some things just are, and should be enjoyed as such. Noir does what it needs and nothing more; anything else is on the listener. Some of the most simple pieces make their best statements by what the listener turns it into. Noir leaves it in the listener's lap. At the close of Tom Lönnqvist's work is a remixed version of "O" by Timo Kaukolampi. This Finnish movie composer wraps up the album with an active, very cinematic number, rife with synths and rich textures. A bit of a different direction than the album before it, this last song is a great addition to and almost culmination of the preceding seven tracks.

Noir is thick and opaque like the long, Kaamos night, but there is something comforting in it. It isn't harsh or overly dark, just a necessary part of the cycle. While many places get to see the day/night balance a bit more evenly, Noir is a reminder that things do not have to be, and that both parts are necessary to make the whole...in any combination. Richly textured, Tom Lönnqvist's latest is a great record to play while one contemplates the night. 

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Paul Casey
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