Kelly Lee Owens: Oleic EP

From four tracks alone, it's obvious that London producer Kelly Lee Owens has been an avid studier of what makes great dance music "great".
Kelly Lee Owens
Oleic EP
Smalltown Supersound

Kelly Lee Owens’ debut on Smalltown Supersound is simply an under-20-minute EP that transmits intelligently-programmed electronic music. Often, the layers are brought in at the exact time you feel like they’re going to be; instead of being negatively “predictable”, it’s one of the most satisfying feelings when listening to electronic music. The weakest cut is the opener “C.B.M.”, though it’s got a nice-and-simple pairing of thick bass with Boards of Canada-style keyboards. After this, though, things turn great.

On the titular “Oleic”, the bells start to chime, the bass starts running, the strings elevate the piece to a new plane as the other elements vary slightly enough to keep us entranced, and then the high-hats and snare are added only half-way through to finish the track. The track booms with the studied beat placement of Daft Punk’s Homework, but the cinematic touches of their amorously nostalgic Random Access Memories. Owens’ rework of Jenny Hval’s “Kingsize” absolutely STOMPS — repeatedly we hear “Toned. Down. Sound.”, yet you can’t do anything but blast a track like this. The bassline is acutely textured, and the modular synth squiggles tickle the eardrums like weird fishes while our brains hold on to the high-hat stream. The final “Elliptic” is incredible with its constant morphing, especially when most of its layers are put in place by ~0:45, but then the beat really starts kicking with the high-hats that enter sooner than we expect.

Kelly Lee Owens’ delicacy of an EP is a must-listen if you’ve ever connected with the feeling of hearing a club-thumping tune that is so darn impressive it makes you smile.

RATING 8 / 10