Even in the increasingly crowded field of electronic music, Kelly Lee Owens’ debut album arrives as a wonderful surprise. An album that bridges the gaps between cavernous techno, spectral pop, and krautrock’s mechanical pulse, Kelly Lee Owens brims with exploratory wonder, establishing a personal aesthetic that is as beguiling as it is thrillingly familiar.
Before starting work on the self-produced, self-titled album, the 28-year-old Londoner turned her keen ear towards dance music after working with techno producer Daniel Avery in a local record store. You’ll most likely have heard her voice and contributions on Avery’s spectacular 2013 debut Drone Logic, lending her talents to its title track and “Knowing We’ll Be Here.”
Owens’ album follows her two self-released white label 12″s and “Oleic,” her debut EP release on Smalltown Supersound, in which she flexed her considerable muscle as a dance producer with four luscious, deeply satisfying slices of big-room electronic music. Appearing on “Oleic” through Owens’ rework of her track ‘Kingsize,’ avant-pop artist Jenny Hval also appears on S/T on the stunning “Anxi,” a track that shifts from drifting tones and distant vocals to warm squelches and tunnel-vision club beats.
S/T is first and foremost Owens’ vision, a record that exudes a startling level of intimacy even in its largest-sounding moments — such as “Arthur,” a percolating mixture of looped vocals and rustling rhythms that rides on a perpetual near-crescendo. The song is a tribute to the late iconoclastic musician and kindred spirit Arthur Russell. S/T explores a variety of moods — sadness, anxiety, darkly shaded ecstasy — with a trippy-eyed clarity and confidence that only bodes well for the future.