Review: Kee Avil – Crease
National Music Reviews
Kee Avil = Björk + Fiona Apple + Colin Stetson
Horror fans of all kinds may find enjoyment in Kee Avil’s debut album, Crease. The artist’s full-length, electroacoustic record must be witnessed from top to bottom—the flow, story and sound resembles much of an Ari Aster film. Perfectly crafted, this haunting album demands your undivided attention.
Montréal-based Kee Avil hit streaming platforms back in 2018 with her self-titled EP release. Since then, a few singles teased the world as she spent the last three years working religiously on Crease. The record is streamable and pioneers its original, experimental sound. While resembling soundtracks of contemporary, arthouse horror films, Crease repeatedly took me back to ’90s trip-hop and Björk. The tracks feel like they’re made purely for a midnight listen in a blue-lit room.
From the get-go, “See, my shadow” feels like a performance—suspenseful sounds and layered poetry fade in and out of audibility. Tracks like “Melting Slow” and “saf” screech at the listener with a low, painful tone that resembles a spell. They leave you unsettled but wanting more. In search of more, I found some music videos. If the tracks alone weren’t chilling enough, the visuals in Kee Avil’s videos offer a frightening physical vision behind the sound.
The acoustic guitar and beats remain minimal, imitating what feels like a staggering heartbeat throughout the course of the album. The guitar subtly lingers, but nevertheless stands out. Although the tracks feel chaotic, Kee Avil makes their penchant for precision clear. On “And I,” her rapid key changes and freedom in vocals embellishes the track. The simple acoustics and steady pace complement Kee Avil’s personal lyricism, displaying meticulous attention to detail where she sings: “Looking back I see the cloud of my imagination / It blurs me out, it locks me out / Of my own ambition it stole.”
A theme and intention may not be quite evident, but Kee Avil gives the listener the ability to create their own story and fully feel the emotions. The whispers and harsh consonants used frequently throughout the album feel like an instrument of their own, as Kee Avil’s stalker-ish voice plays the villain in her storytelling. “Gone again” repeats the same two lyrics in a child-like, dreary tone and parallels movie soundtracks such as Coraline or Pan’s Labyrinth.
Crease is a contemporary, authentic performance worth diving into. Kee Avil evokes a gut-wrenching, poetic experience of human emotion through her detailed acoustic and electro techniques. Deconstructing these tracks allows us to relate to them. In their solitude, listeners can feel the emotion each track was built upon. Turn off the lights, curl up and listen to Crease cover to cover. –Birdy Francis