Kelly Lee Owens self-titled debut is a transfixing mix of Aphex Twin and Jenny Hval.Smalltown Supersound, 2017
7.1 / 10
Following last year’s Oleic EP, Welsh producer Kelly Lee Owens releases her self-titled, debut full-length. Her debut expands on Oleic’s promising start. She even brings along some familiar friends. The meditative “Keep Walking” is co-written by techno producer Daniel Avery. Owens previously worked with Avery in the past on his album, Drone Logic. Also appearing on the album is Jenny Hval. Hval’s song, “Kingsize”, was reworked by Owens on Oleic. Here, they team up on the song, “Anxi.” The collaboration feels like fate, especially when Owens’ vocal style sometimes emulates Hval’s. Overall, Kelly Lee Owens mixes the IDM of Aphex Twin, Julianna Barwick’s ability to instill gorgeous ambience, and Jenny Hval’s sinister quirk.
Owens seemingly borrows Hval’s spoken word style on songs like “Evolution” and “CBM”. On “Evolution”, she sings the song’s title often as, “Evil-ution”. Later in the song, she whispers, “Be the/ See the/ Revolution.” The call to arms is seductive and maybe a bit wicked. Just what kind of revolution is she proposing? Album standout, “Arthur” is actuall a tribute to the late Arthur Russell, who Owens holds an affinity for. Owens’ airy vocals glide over the track’s shuffling percussion. Its tense IDM softens from an overwhelming wave of ambience. She constructs a dream-like atmosphere on the aptly named “Lucid”. The song’s gentle calm disrupts in its final third from a bristling futuristic beat. However, its kick is a welcome change-up.
Owens shows off her long game on album closer “8”, which comes very close to 10 minutes in length. The song is a slow burn that builds off pulsating bass and gorgeous vocal harmonies. It’s a song that you can really lose yourself within. Really, that sentiment asserts itself throughout Kelly Lee Owens. The atmospheres feel icy and grey in appearance; transfixing your senses with ease. Only once it’s over do you feel its spell release you. That is, until the next Kelly Lee Owens album.