Tei Shi

Crawl Space

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Crawl Space is the full-length debut of Tei Shi, the performance alias of N.Y.C.-based singer and songwriter Valerie Teicher, an alum of the Berklee College of Music. Known to some for earlier EPs and singles like "M&Ms" and "Bassically," she incorporates layered vocal tracks, sometimes looped, into a slinky, efficient indie electronic sound. The album's title refers to a childhood habit of willing herself into the crawl space of her family's home for a moment each night when she found herself developing a fear of the dark. Also a tribute to her youth -- a bilingual one spent partly in Bogotá, Colombia and Vancouver, Canada -- is her first Spanish-language recording, "Como Si." Atmospheric and sultry, the song sets echoing, sustained electric guitar, like-minded synths, and pitched drums beneath Teicher's ethereal near-whisper. It's one of an album full of deft, well-controlled vocal performances. A synth bass-centric tune with horns, "Creep" explores the higher end of her range as she repeats "Leave and go quietly." Elsewhere, "Justify" offers glitchier fare that toys with rhythm and the interplay of several vocal tracks, and "Keep Running" is bolder, full-throated dance-pop. Altogether, not counting a few brief spoken word tracks by a preteen Teicher, it's a 12-song debut that doesn't include any of her earlier breakthrough streaming singles, yet still doesn't drift into filler. The closer, "Sleepy," winds things down by omitting the rhythm section (for the most part) and relying on piano accompaniment for weary vocals that reveal: "I'm tired of knowing what I need and never chasing it." On the subject of Crawl Space, Teicher has said that she wanted the album to express her individuality; she seems not only to have chased that goal but to have pulled it off. Loaded with vocal hooks, sassy, R&B-infused performances, and textured, groove-powered tunes, it's a hypnotic set that's definitely got its own thing going on.

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