AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Emilie Cecilia LeBel – field studies [Redshift Records]

On the evidence of field studies, her debut album, the chamber music of Canadian composer Emilie Cecilia LeBel embodies a distinctive type of minimalism based on resonance. Eschewing conventional melody, LeBel instead structures her work in terms of series of events consisting of individual notes or clusters of notes sounding at length and kept within a generally quiet dynamic range. On the programmatically titled…and the higher leaves of the trees seemed to shimmer in the last of the sunlight’s lingering touch of them… (2022), for electroacoustic chamber ensemble, short, repeated motifs are set out on piano against a sustained drone on baritone saxophone and flute. The center of gravity for the piece, as for much of the other work on the album, is—as the title hints–in the shimmering fusion of overtones produced by the overlapping of the instruments’ voices. LeBel approaches ambient territory with even if nothing but shapes and light reflected in the glass (2021) for baritone saxophone, alto flute, prepared drums, and electronics, a piece that moves in long tones broken up by rests and in which sympathetic resonances set up by the electronics play a major role. The work for solo violin, 2016’s further migration (migration no. 1) is an essay in overtones coaxed from rough-edged harmonics, with the occasional pizzicato punctuation.