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RIYL: Scott Walker, PJ Harvey, Coil, Matmos, Autechre & Pan Daijing.
The Debut Full-Length By Montréal Producer Kee Avil, The Project Led By Avant/Improv Guitarist Vicky Mettler, Also Known As A Member Of Sam Shalabi’s Land Of Kush And As Co-Founder Of Concrete Sound Montréal. Advance Single “See, My Shadow” Premiered By Mary Ann Hobbs On BBC6 And Picked Up By Music & Riots, Backseat Mafia, Aural Aggravation, Etc In Dec 2021. Kee Avil, a project led by Montréal producer and guitarist Vicky Mettler: a singular expression of fractured dream logic concretized in chiselled postpunk guitar, sinuous low-end electronics, a panoply of organic and digital samples creating alternately twitchy and propulsive rhythm, and the anxious intimacy of her finely wrought lyricism and vocals. Bound by an outstanding production sensibility throughout, Crease unfolds one oblique earworm hook after another, with compositional innovation anchored to an inscrutable and compelling voice across 10 songs of tremendous and imaginative sonic detail.
Kee Avil brings a contemporary electroacoustic sensibility to bear on traditions and conventions of pop, postpunk, electronic and sound-art songwriting, where touchstones range from Scott Walker and Coil to Fiona Apple, (early) PJ Harvey and (later) Juana Molina to Eartheater, Pan Daijing and Smerz; or Grouper produced by Autechre. Her unconventional alloys also conjure the guitar-inflected deconstructions of Gastr del Sol and the crystalline micro-worlds of Bjork, Matmos and Rashad Becker. Crease is one of those debut records that excites a wide range of peerless references precisely because it's so compelling in its own idiosyncratic authority, originality and execution. Each song on Crease is its own sculpture, meticulously assembled to resemble disassembly: “each of these worlds was built without consideration for the other; it felt impossible to me, once I would enter the atmosphere of a song, to try to start another until that idea was finished.”
The album nonetheless unfolds in impressive holistic integration through a palette of textures and techniques deployed in recurring but continually refracted ways. Alongside her superb austere guitar work stitched into electro-industrial, dark-ambient and minimal-techno soundworlds, it’s her voice and lyrics confidential, hermetic, implacable that provide the galvanizing, always captivating through-line. Her more compositional, exacting, (de)constructed musical identity was first unveiled with the self-titled Kee Avil EP (Black Bough Records) and further honed by pre-pandemic tours sharing stages with Pere Ubu, Marc Ribot and Bill Orcut among others. Woodshedding since then, Crease presents a quantum leap in Kee Avil's exploration of studio-based experimentation, arrangement and production, signaling the arrival of a brilliantly genre-melding, refined and assiduous new voice in avant-garde songcraft.
Barry says: It's definitely an off-piste release for decidedly off-piste label Constellation here, but ends up being a surprisingly good fit. There are echoes of the modern classical roots of the label's forbears, but it's essentially a juxtaposition of MSP sound mangling and futuristic fractured electronica via avant synth drone. A heady, exhilarating journey.
01 See, My Shadow
04 Melting Slow
05 And I
06 Okra Ooze
07 I Too, Bury
08 Devil’s Sweet Tooth
10 Gone Again