Welsh producer/vocalist Kelly Lee Owens released her ultra-personal second album, Inner Song, in August 2020, in the thick of the pandemic. With any plans to tour the record scuttled, that winter she managed to decamp from her London home to Oslo—just before borders were closing again—for some uninterrupted studio time. Much like Inner Song’s rather short 35-day gestation, after a month of work with Norwegian avant-garde/noise producer Lasse Marhaug, Owens emerged with LP.8, her most experimental, liberating record yet. On her previous full-lengths—this is actually her third, not her eighth—Owens alternated between deep, plodding techno tracks and moody synth compositions, over which her lithe vocals floated effortlessly. But on LP.8, the contrasts—between the earthly and the ethereal—are felt more deeply. The opener, “Release,” plays like a lost Chris & Cosey cut, its crunchy precision finding that sweet spot between industrial and early techno. On the New Age-y “Anadlu,” “S.O (2),”and “Olga,” hints of Enya’s influence shine through, but the songs’ gauzy atmospheres are often counterweighted by brooding undertones. “Nana Piano” is a melancholy solo piano sketch, unfettered except for some gentle birdsong in the background. But the closing “Sonic 8” is Owens at her most direct and visceral: She channels all sorts of frustrations while intoning, “This is a wake-up call/This is an emergency” over a beat so skeletal and abrasive that it sounds like a frayed wire swinging dangerously close to the bathtub.

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