It’s been a whirlwind few years for Welsh musician and producer Kelly Lee Owens.
Her widely acclaimed second album, Inner Song, cemented Owens with a position at the top table of British electronic and experimentalism. With the album seeing her take home the 2021 edition of the Welsh Music Prize, release the theme song for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, undertake remixes for global megastars, oversee collaborations with holistic lifestyle brands all whilst working with genre behemoths from Jon Hopkins to John Cale.
As the dregs of a pandemic placed plans for a worldwide victory lap on hold, Owens was forced into directing creative energy elsewhere. Oslo called and provided a change of scenery and afforded some undisturbed studio time, stripped from expectation or preconceptions. Working with avant-noise studio head Lasse Marhaug (Merzbow, Sunn O))), Jenny Hval) Owens has produced something she refers to as an “outlier”. Whilst Inner Song was an immediate record of club informed, pop-inflected electronic music, LP.8 leans towards more experimental ephemera.
On this outing, departed are steadfast melodies and more accessible song structures of previous works and in their place are tough, industrial sounds paired with ethereal, natural soundscapes that pair to create naturalistic soundscapes that ebb and flow between tension and release. “Release” provides a staunch tension fuelled opener with a metronomic industrial repetition, whilst “Anadlu” establishes a more longform, ambient soundscape. Although compositionally a left-turn for Owens, here she is no less political.
“Sonic 8” acts as a full on aural assault backed by dogmatic call-to-arms vocals about the climate and wider crisis’s faced by humanity, “this is an emergency / divide and conquer / what are you going to do about it?”.
LP.8 is certainly roomier than Owens’ previous work. More directed at dedicated dance-heads, more suited to the durgy decrepitude of basement dancefloors, and more abstract in its approach. But LP.8 provides further evidence that Kelly Lee Owens operates in a field entirely of her own. Inhabiting a genre of one, functioning with a limitless potential and an ability to direct her own musicianship to wherever she points her creative rudder. Kelly Lee Owens not only sits at the top table of British electronic music, but she has one hand on the top seat.