Kee Avil – Crease

Posted: 7 March 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Constellation – 11th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Kee Avil isn’t an individual, and isn’t really a band, so much as a concept, a collective, a project, the brainchild of Montréal producer and guitarist Vicky Mettler. Debut album, Crease, is pitched as ‘a singular expression of fractured dream logic concretized in chiselled postpunk guitar, sinuous low-end electronics, a panoply of organic and digital micro-samples creating alternately twitchy and propulsive rhythm, and the anxious intimacy of her finely wrought lyricism and vocals’.

It all sounds pretty grand and sets expectations high. Thankfully, Crease doesn’t disappoint. To manage those high expectations, let’s get it established here and now that it’s not a conventional album, with easy songs with obvious or accessible verse/chorus structures.

‘See, my shadow’ starts out with hints of early PJ Harvey but swiftly spins into industrial post-punk with electro/hip-hop beats, more akin to Lydia Lunch fronting Coil remixed by Portishead. It’s a lot to happen in the space of under four minutes, but then, that’s par for the course here: Crease is as jam-packed with ideas as it is sonic strangeness. It’s not an easy album to get a grasp on, and Mettler comes across as quite otherly. Some may say crazy, unhinged, but it’s not that. It’s just apparent she exists on another plane, and Crease shuns conventional structures in favour of exploring avenues of songwriting that more closely reflect an alternative vision and concept of ‘songs’. I certainly don’t mean that as a criticism, but equally, don’t want to sound like a wanker by saying that this is art and therefor superior. I mean, it is superior, but not because of that. To unpack that a bit, Crease is clearly the product of a quite specific mindset, and a determination to find a means of articulating. And sometimes, to articulate is to go beyond language and beyond conventional musical structures. As such, what Crease articulates is a separation from the rest of the world, the turmoil of the mind, the duality of the internal monologue.

‘Drying’ is sparse, glitchy, a clicky clatter and pop of percussion providing an erratic framework for the incidental instrumentation and slowed-down, opiate-haze vocals that are at once sultry and threatening.

‘And I’ is a sparse, scratchy acoustic guitar-based song; the tense picking at times calls to mind early Leonard Cohen, and the atmosphere is muscle-tensingly taut. It’s a masterclass in how less is so much more, and as Mettler’s breathy vocal arcs over the spindly fretwork, a kind of magic happens in the way it draws you in with a hypnotic sensation. ‘Devil’s Sweet Tooth’ lunges and sways, violins teeter on the brink of a breakdown

It’s often difficult to make out the actual lyrics, so you lean in closer in an attempt to get your head and hands around them. You fail, but you’re drawn in closer to the dissonant strangeness that’s more than just music: it’s a world of disconnection and dislocation. It’s unnerving, alien, but likely better than this one right now.

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Comments
  1. […] Crease is the debut full-length album of deconstructed electroacoustic postpunk songcraft by Montréal guitarist and producer Kee Avil, whose touchstones range from Scott Walker and Coil to Fiona Apple; (early) PJ Harvey and (later) Juana Molina to Eartheater, Pan Daijing and Smerz—or like Grouper produced by Matmos. […]

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