Album Review: Kee Avil – Crease Remixed

[Constellation; 2023]

Thanks to its nature, Kee Avil’s music is the kind that is ripe for remixing. The Montreal musician (née Vicky Mettler) makes music that sounds like it was originally created by shredding up the original components and stitching them back together into mangled new forms with makeshift adhesive and thread. A comparison to Frankenstein’s Monster wouldn’t be incorrect. Mettler’s debut album as Kee Avil, Crease, was a tangled and thorny record, managing to be simultaneously alluring and off-putting. Some tracks felt fragile and precarious like if a single strand were plucked away, the whole thing would come tumbling down.

If Crease Remixed proves anything then, it’s that those strands were all careful and deliberate, all carrying Mettler’s identity with them. The four tracks on her new EP cast the originals in new lights, sometimes making it impossible to tell where the original material is hiding amongst all the new noise. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Canadian musical duo Pelada take the sparse final track from Crease and turn it into an avant club banger. Dressing up “Gone again” with bouncy piano and synths, when the track is flashing all the lights and lost in the mist of the smoke machine, it’s a great time. Occasionally it will unravel, an unwound filament of Mettler’s own making revealing itself as the core as Pelada try to form snappy piano chords around the chromatic and difficult time signatures.

Similarly, Baltimore producer and musician Ami Dang bleeds in North Indian musical elements amidst jittery percussion, leaning their remix of “And I” to the dancefloor. It flips the breathy intimacy of the original on its head, but again has Mettler’s voice running through its core as a foundation which Dang builds upon. Cecile Believe (the moniker of former Montréal musician Caila Thompson-Hannant) cuts up the cut up samples and noises of “See, my shadow” even more, making tinny, scuttering percussion and melodic lines from fractions of syllables. At the heart of it sits Mettler’s voice like an automated entity powering all the cogs and gears.

claire rousay’s take on “I too, bury” is perhaps the most intriguing of the four remixes here. After an introduction of duvet-soft electronic waves that percolate in that way that feels like a personal auditory memory captured on tape (much like most of rousay’s own catalogue), Mettler enters with her lonesome discordant piano notes as per the original track. Some jazzy guitar strums and airy vocals seep into the mix, but the remix feels more like rousay is offering a gentle introduction for Mettler, fading the line between each artist’s input until it’s nigh on impossible to discern who contributed what.

It would be amiss to call Crease Remixed any kind of cash grab or victory lap, but it’s definitely not quite as striking or as essential as the original album. Pelada’s take on “Gone again” leaves the best lasting impression by just being a fun time, but certainly for those who invested some time in Crease there’s fascination and intrigue to be found with the other tracks here. They further highlight the complexity of Mettler’s arrangements and individual components, but also take them out of their primal, dissonant, and engrossing original context. Without their original setting, the strands don’t shimmer quite the same way.