Music Reviews
SASAMI

SASAMI SASAMI

(Domino Recording Co) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Sasami Ashworth has been contributing to various musical projects for years, such as Cherry Glazerr, Avi Buffalo and Wild Nothing. All that time working on other people’s albums helped move things along at a brisk pace when it came to her first record as SASAMI. Slightly more than a year after her first single, her self-titled debut shows off Ashworth’s immense potential, with hazy tunes unrestrained by genres or styles.

In a statement, Ashworth said her debut is “a mix of a diary and a collection of letters, written but never sent, to people I’ve been intimately involved with in one way or another.” Those sentiments come through not just lyrically, but also musically. On Callous, Ashworth spurs against a neglectful relationship, whispering: “I lost my callouses for you/And you didn't even think to ask me how my day was.” While her voice stays calm and in control, her guitar rips into high-pitched, gnarled lines, bringing out the frustration at being undervalued. I Was A Window is similar—a mix of daydream mist is cut through by distorted synths as she sings, “I was a window/into something you didn’t like/so you blamed it on me.”

On Not The Time and Free, Ashworth reflects on her own struggles with relationships, romantic or otherwise. The former looks at lost opportunities to reconnect with people from her past, the song speeding along with a driving guitar rhythm. It’s a California beach vibe but with clouds gathering in the distance. Free is a delicate ballad where Ashworth mourns missed opportunities for love. “I don't care what tomorrow brings/Dreaming of some awful things/‘Cause our time is running out/And you don’t know what you mean to me,” she sings over light guitar strums. The occasional swell of guitar feedback reflects the turmoil in her lyrics.

A couple of other songs on SASAMI cover the same territory but less effective, mainly let down by the music. Morning Comes evens all its various elements so much that nothing stands out, outside of a needling guitar solo. Pacify My Heart is a less potent version of Free, with a second half that should build up to an eruptive conclusion but peters out instead.

It’s not all dreamy guitars though. Jealousy stretches out the SASAMI sound, showing the breadth of her abilities. This keyboard-heavy track takes on a gauzy quality, like floating drunkenly through a club with the strobe lights in your eyes. But the high-pitched repeat of the title gives you something to focus in on. The closer, Turned Out I Was Everyone, also shows off SASAMI’s musical range, with a quick-footed beat, a spacey synth and overlapping vocals. It’s an oddly-structured song that makes for a satisfying end to the record.

SASAMI is a promising debut by an artist who’s been part of the scene for years but has now started down a path on her own. With a gift for confessional lyrics, a dusky, atmospheric touch and an outside-the-box mindset, Ashworth has more than proven that this is the time for her to step into the spotlight.