Release Date: Mar 8, 2019
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Sasami Ashworth already had a busy musical career before launching SASAMI. She's a classically trained french horn player, has done string arrangements, played session dates, taught music to elementary school kids, and was a member of Cherry Glazerr for a few years. While doing the latter, she started writing songs detailing a recent break up, and with the help of her brother Joo Joo (who's in the band Froth), she started recording them.
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.
Sasami Ashworth has a long history of being involved in music, from multiple sides of the spectrum - first, as a music conservatory student with dreams of becoming a classical French horn player, later as a music teacher to school children and even later as the synth player in LA-rock band Cherry Glazerr - but her self-titled debut is where she finally strikes out on her own. 'SASAMI' is a record that's full of texture and intricate melodies that often seem disparate. 'Free' begins with colliding, screeching guitars before meandering into a dream-like ballad; 'Pacify My Heart' is drenched in reverb, with droning guitars that grind up against Sasami's dream-like vocals all while a keyboard meanders its way underneath.
While LA-based SASAMI Ashworth only released her first track under her SASAMI moniker last year, the road to her debut album has been a long one. Since learning the piano as a child, Ashworth has become an accomplished French horn player and even forged a career as an elementary school music teacher. Yet Ashworth's artistic ambitions have increasingly taken precedent, and she soon followed her brother Jojo (who plays guitar on SASAMI and in his own band Froth ) into the LA punk scene and eventually joined Cherry Glazerr in 2015.
There is an indescribable melancholy to shoegaze coursing just beneath the surface. The music seems designed to overwhelm you with unnamable feelings: I am sad and I listen to Loveless Every Night is the name of a Facebook group, yes, but it's also a lifestyle. Even the brightest songs by the Cocteau Twins carry an undertow of sorrow. Sasami Ashworth's shoegaze invokes similar feelings; the Los Angeles-based polymath has made her name over the years as the synth player in Cherry Glazerr.
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.
Some records are made out of sheer necessity for the creator's mental well-being, without taking the listener's ability to relate to the music into account. That can totally be a moot point. For instance, many people responded to Phil Elverum's unvarnished document of grief, A Crow Looked At Me, channeling their own experiences within his songs. Even more opaque music like the later works of the late Mark Hollis - though created entirely out of the spotlight - invested the devoted, patient listener.