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Kee Avil
Spine

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    Bandcamp • ALBUM OF THE DAY (May 2024)
    Der Spiegel • ALBUM OF THE WEEK (May 2024)

     

    Listen to a playlist of album influences curated by Kee Avil (Spotify)

     

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    CST178   180gLP • CD • DL

    Release date: 03 May 2024

    Duration: 39:41

     

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    "When held up next to the shadowy records that preceded it, Spine still comes across particularly bone chilling—a whispered secret of grave importance." - Bandcamp ALBUM OF THE DAY

    "Kee Avil’s skeletal grooves hit with an urgent intimacy. Each individual sound is diamond sharp, but there is a softness in their application. Like the tiny hooks that cover the surface of a cat’s tongue, the effect is both abrasive and enticing.THE WIRE

    "Deeply intimate and intensely unsettling… like an alien lifeform flexing its mandibles." - UNCUT

    "The bone and marrow-shaking electro blues on Spine also illustrate her process of digging herself out and feeling herself again. For such a feat of strength you have to make yourself lean and sinewy - like this album, freed from all frills and decorations, by an extraordinary artist whose second attempt is even more impressive than the first.” - Der Spiegel ALBUM OF THE WEEK

    "Twisting through a gangly detuned guitar phrase, given pulse by a lo-fi electronic patter and spit, 'Felt' is an off-kilter pop song driven by Avil’s visceral vocal expressions, clawing and pleading for something that seems out of reach." - John Parry, Backseat Mafia

    "It’s a heavily textured collection with layered voices, ringing guitar strata and other, less certain sounds, calcifying into sedimentary stone (...) Spine is a pretty cold world. Kee Avil’s the only thing getting us through it." - Kurt Gottschalk, Star Revue

    ... fascinatingly uncomfortable, eerily stunning. Her compositions slither and creep through stark arrangements of guitar, voice and electronics, always leading down dark corridors and bottomless chasms. Her sophomore effort Spine is just such a magnificently menacing piece of work, opening with the haunted creep of standout “Felt,” and further descending into spectacular displays of quiet madness from there. She evokes artists such as Xiu Xiu and later Scott Walker in her masterfully dark grooves and quiet dissonance, but it takes only a little patience to hear these dirges as the wonderfully ominous works of art that they are. - TREBLEZINE

    "Spine is brimming with discord and dissonance, angularity and oddness." - Aural Aggravation

    "Spine affirms Kee Avil’s status of an aesthetics and production virtuoso comparable to Jlin or SOPHIE – producing a dripping, cavernous version of glitch slammed with manipulations." - Line of Best Fit

    "'Felt' is an un-nerving blend of brittle synth textures, aching vocals, twangy strings and erratic beats from Montréal-based experimental artist and producer Kee Avil. Taken from her upcoming second album, Spine, the way in which she expertly fuses gritty and gentle elements into her music always impresses me." - Kate Crudgington, Get In Her Ears

    "A fusion of minor key indie-folk songwriting, delivered mournfully broken, with morose discordancy, all tempered with backing hums, creaks and fluff-on-the-needle sounds." - THE ARTS DESK

    "'do this again' is raw, skeletal, and strangely strange in a most compelling sort of way. Redolent of Rid Of Me-era PJ Harvey, it manages that difficult dichotomy of sounding as if it is a thousand miles away whilst still remaining up close and personal." - Simon Godley, God Is In The TV Zine


    Kee Avil’s music is both adventurous and intimate, intellectually challenging and emotionally resonant. The Montréal guitarist and producer’s 2022 debut LP Crease garnered plaudits from outlets like The Wire, The Quietus, Mojo and Foxy Digitalis, picking up a Canadian Juno Award nomination and Bandcamp Album Of The Day and Albums Of The Year along the way. Its intricate construction, unnerving atmospheres, and knife-edge take on avant-pop prompted comparisons to early PJ Harvey, This Heat, and Gazelle Twin. A remix EP with work by claire rousay, Ami Dang, Cecile Believe, and Pelada brought collaborative perspectives to four Crease tracks, offering new pathways within those songs.

    On Spine, her sophomore album, Kee Avil strips back her heavily textured compositions, opening up a much rawer sound. She calls it folk—and while traditionalists might scoff, this is urgent music that reflects the precarity of modern life, as well as the jarring mixture of electronic and real-world interactions that have become the fabric of our day-to-day experiences.

    There’s a hypnotic post-punk somnambulance to it all, using the repetition and fracturing of melodic phrases interwoven with delicate electronics to create curious and persistent hooks. While not a concept album, themes of time’s passage, remembrance, and decay crop up across multiple tracks. Each track intentionally only has four elements—guitar, electronics, and two other instruments, with Kee’s voice and guitar pushed to the front. Within this minimalist framework, the juxtaposition of beauty and discomfort that is key to the Kee Avil sound stands out in skin-prickling relief. “We’re shaped by many versions of ourselves,” says Avil. “I was looking back at these versions of myself and what could have been, what didn’t end up being and what did end up being, and going back like that through time. Seeing the future, the past.”

    Spine was written in Kee Avil’s home studio after a lapse in writing while touring Crease and working on other projects. She is a well-known and respected member of the Montréal experimental scene, and formerly ran Concrete Sound Studio with Zach Scholes, who continues to work with her as a producer on Spine. Compared to the three years that went into making her debut, Spine emerged in a matter of months—a process that may also be a factor in its intensity and sharpness: “This record was much harder, like it was really discovering everything from scratch.” In her desire to not simply replicate or extend the sound of Crease, she felt she had to rip up the rule book, write in a different way, and pare back songs against her usual instincts.

    Sometimes, when we work against our ingrained habits, we get to the core of who we really are. Spine is an exercise in that process. Without over-intellectualizing or being didactic, it hits immediately and emotionally, especially if you are a person who has spent much time in the process of self-examination. Kee’s voice hisses, whispers, and chants; her guitar bends and rings; electronics skitter and crackle; violin creaks like a door in the wind. There is something so evocative about the atmospheres she creates that it’s easy to overlay one’s own feelings onto her work, but to do that wholly would be to overlook one of the most important things about Spine: Kee Avil’s clear and thoughtful vision. This isn’t just the next step forward in her artistic trajectory; it’s a stunner of a record that stands on its own, a bracing and thrilling listen that has much to reveal about the contradictions inherent in being human.

    jj skolnik, February 2024.


    PACKAGING NOTES

    Deluxe 180gLP Art Edition pressed at Optimal (DE) in 350gsm wide spine jacket + 300gsm inner + set of six 12”x12” 300gsm art cards all printed LE-UV on uncoated Arktika artboards + DL card.

    CD in custom paperboard mini-gatefold jacket + inner disc sleeve. 


    CREDITS

    Songs by Kee Avil.

    Strings on tracks 6 & 7 by Mark Molnar.
    Double bass on tracks 3 & 6 by Raph Foisy.
    Samples on track 6 by Antoine Simard + Matthieu Gilbert-Thévard.

    Produced by Kee Avil and Zach Scholes.
    Recorded and mixed by Zach Scholes.
    Mastered by Guy Hébert at Concrete Mastering.

    Mold by Jacqueline Beaumont.
    Artwork photography by Fatine-Violette Sabiri.
    Art direction by Kee Avil.