Sasami – ‘Sasami’ review

Score

Tales of disintegrating relationships, told with searing honesty, are underpinned by lushly woven arrangement on the debut from the former Cherry Glazerr synth player

Formerly Cherry Glazerr’s synth player, Sasami Ashworth has tried her hand at a fair few things over the years. In addition to scoring orchestral arrangements for films and commercials, she’s also a classically trained French horn player, and spent a valuable spell as a primary school teacher. “If you can keep, like, 30 kids with tambourines entertained,” she once joked in a press release, “doing it for a room of drunk adults at a rock show is nothing.”

Although she studied as a conservatory of music, her eponymous project ‘Sasami’ is a decidedly unregimented project. This self-titled album – recorded onto an iPad while touring with Cherry Glazerr, and gradually assembled from the rough fragments – plays through like a scribble-filled diary. Tales of disintegrating relationships, told with searing honesty, are underpinned by lushly woven arrangement. Sonically, her overall goal seems similar to that of her US alt-rock contemporaries Palehound, Jay Som, and Snail Mail; light-footed delivery often contrasts with a pithy bitterness beneath. “I lost my calluses for you,” she growls on the punnily titled ‘Callous’, referring to the tough hats of skin that coat the ends of guitarists’ fingers. “And you didn’t even think to ask me how my day was.”

‘Sasami’ is at its best when it takes sudden plunges into darkness – ‘Pacify My Heart’ and ‘Not the Time’ bear distinct shades of My Bloody Valentine in their saturated approach to pop, while many of Ashworth’s heavier arrangements bring to mind the tense dissonance of Slint. And even the paired-back ‘Adult Contemporary’, with its tongue-in-cheek title, is rich with uneasy pangs of guitar: “Bah-bah-da-da-da,” sings Ashworth cheerfully in contrast, “straight as an arrow”.

At times the album that little bit too airy. As skilful as Ashworth is in crafting delicately spun melody – the jangling harmonies of ‘Morning Comes’, or the gentle lull of ‘At Hollywood’ – her full force and potential truly reveals itself when the shadows burst out and take over, dragging her shoegazey soundscapes to the edge of the void.

Fizzling out with an uneasy splutter, closer ‘Turned Out I Was Everyone’ is a fidgety reminder that we’re all just isolated husks wandering through the world, destined to be cruel, heartless beings, fucking each other over for all eternity while feeling completely alone. “Thought I was the only one to be so alone in the night,” she mutters. “Turns out I was everyone”. ‘Sasami’ offers up brutal sadness at its devastating finest.

Details

Release date: March 8
Record label: Domino