Albums of the Year: LP.8 – Kelly Lee Owens

LP.8 is a deconstruction of both electronic formula and Owens’ method itself

When interviewed late last year, Kelly Lee Owens was looking for change. She hinted towards “creating quite a bit of music […] that kind of feels a little bit to the left of what I have done before”. Then came ‘Olga’, the lead single from this year’s LP.8, and immediately something felt transformative. 

‘Olga’ pondered in dreamlike stasis. It was an atmospheric product that rose from a period of lockdown in which she aimed to “keep people guessing and surprised”. Led by choral vocals punctuated with humming bass notes, ‘Olga’ signposted a first step into a new era altogether, culminating in LP.8.

What’s most striking about LP.8 is the all-encompassing approach taken by Owens. It’s mature, meticulous, a scholarly and worldly creation that delves deep into a sea of influences ranging far and wide. The contents swing invitingly from Homogenic-era Bjork minus the strings to Luke Slater’s Freek Funk minus the intensity, forging a sound that accommodates all who LP.8 embraces.    

This is not least enhanced by the enlistment of noise musician Lasse Marhaug. His impact is clear, most notably through undulating bass drums that assert their authority throughout the record. In isolation they’re combative and insistent, but as part of the wider landscape they ooze vitality and a sense of presence that further ascends LP.8 into the forefront of the imagination.

The tonal contrast between the oppressive alarm-like synth of ‘Sonic 8’ and the likes of ‘Nana Piano’ – which delicately guides the submerged keys of Harold Budd to a glistening surface – point towards the core of LP.8. Past efforts evidenced that this calibre of composition was always within Owens’ telescopic gaze, yet it feels almost out of the blue given the seismic shift from 2020’s Inner Song.

In essence, LP.8 is a deconstruction of both electronic formula and Owens’ method itself. Tellingly, the album’s name comes from the measurable departure from her earlier work meriting, for Owens, a six-album leap. The resultant sound is celestial, finding its home in a realm far flung from traditional vision yet acutely rooted in those ideals. While LP.8 may not wholly please the dancefloor devotees familiar to Owens, it showcases an artist finding new paths in electronic formulation and hitting an impeccable standard in 2022.

Listen to The Colour of Spring Podcast for more of our albums of the year here

By Jamie Bains

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