TRACK: Kelly Lee Owens feat John Cale – ‘Corner Of My Sky’: Welsh wizardry combined in genre-blurring techno

Kelly Lee Owens, photographed by Kim Hiorthøy

TAKE one absolute legend of experimental pop music, Carmarthenshire-born John Cale, who needs no introduction in these pages, a career of absolute wonder and collaboration under his belt, never content to rest on his admittedly fine laurels; then add his creative perceptivity to that of Flintshire’s Kelly Lee Owens who, like no one else with the possible exception of Canada’s Braids, can so deftly splice vocal music with the deeper – not the cliched, pop-anthemic – ends of electronica and techno. 

The result? A nugget of Welsh wizardry produced in consort, which you can hear below in the shape of “Corner Of My Sky”. 

Kelly’s way with a beautifully skeletal percussive-bleep framework and deep bass surges, at once muscle-flexing yet contemplatively stilling, provides a framework over which Cale’s filtered voice declaims: “The rain, the rain, the rain, thank god the rain”. His voice is weathered and deep and wonderfully textural, in that warm and wondrous way Welsh voices are.

A deep synth motif rises up and over, taking the melody of Cale’s vocal mantra; he responds in Welsh, the two dancing in glorious counterplay. The track fades down through that bass surge and achromatic bells.

Cale comments: “It’s not usually this immediate that a productive afternoon brings a satisfying conclusion to a task. Kelly sent me a track she’d written – an instrumental that was a gentle drift – something comfortably familiar to what I’d been working on myself. 

“On the first listen, the lyrics came with ease and a chorus and melody grew out of it. Even the Welsh phrases seemed to develop from a place of reflective memory, which was a surprise since I hadn’t written in Welsh for decades. 

“Once finished, I realized there existed a built-in thread we’d created together and apart – and her kind spirit pulled it all together and in quick order.” 

Kelly picks up the thread: “I knew with this album I needed to connect with my roots and therefore having the Welsh language featured on the record felt very important to me. 

“Once the music for the track was written and the sounds were formed, I sent the track straight to John and asked if he could perhaps delve into his Welsh heritage and tell the story of the land via spoken-word, poetry and song. What he sent back was nothing short of phenomenal. 

“The arrangement was done during the mixing process and once I’d finished the track, I cried – firstly feeling incredibly lucky to have collaborated with John and his eternal talent and secondly for both of us to have been able to connect to our homeland in this way.”

“Corner Of My Sky” follows the velvety vocal depths of “On”, the dark, electric and expansive shuffle of “Melt!” and the off-world elegance of “Night” in trailing Inner Song, her second LP for Kim Hiorthøy’s excellent and eclectic Smalltown Supersound imprint.

It’s available now to pre-order on digital, CD and vinyl over at the label’s Bandcamp portal – if you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing her live, you’ll know you’re in for a graceful, intelligent and intoxicating sonic journey.

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