The effects of a devastating tragedy can ripple not only through its own DIY space, but among like-minded communities near and far. 2016’s Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland ended the lives of 36 creative individuals far too soon, including Them Are Us Too‘s guitarist Cash Askew. Musical partner, vocalist and keyboardist Kennedy Ashlyn pushed through unfathomable grief, enlisting help from friends and family to finish Amends, the follow up to TauT‘s debut album Remain, featuring six demos and song sketches as a final gift to their fans, culminating in a final ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye.’ Her latest solo project SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew) is an introspective processing of mortality, nostalgia and reconciliation, resulting in a stunningly heartrending and beautiful debut album.
Released October 26th off Dais Records, Unreality‘s eight tracks lifts the listener to ethereal territory, providing an aural meditation that leaves no room for anything other than immersive reflection. With SRSQ’s second track and official single “The Martyr”, Ashlyn’s soaring vocals never waver in their emotional resonance backed by steadfast synths. Evoking reminiscent of Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals and early 4AD sounds, “Cherish” has Ashlyn asking “will there be an “us”?/or will it be a “you” and a “me”?, narrowing on an eventual surrender at its conclusion by way of merging two souls as one. “Mixed Tide”s minimal instrumentals and lingering vocal inflections provide space that packs in both the joy of seemingly simple remembrances with tumultuous emotions as euphoria and dystopia meet, contrasting the dualities of lightness with darkness, and finalizing in what feels like one of the most heartbreaking tracks of the record. Offering spoken word over a haunting synth landscape, “No Reason”‘s repeated and otherworldly self-titled line rings melancholic and unresolved, leading into the equally brooding yet upbeat track “Permission”. A remarkable collection of poignant sentiments concerning finalities and the fragility of human life, Ashlyn assures us that despite immeasurable sorrow, memories are the one absolute that can never be taken away from us. “it’s an impossible hurt”, she mourns, “but you’ll never ever leave my heart.”
You can purchase SRSQ’s Unreality on CD, LP, and digital formats on Dais Records. The album’s vinyl editions are issued in thick matte jackets with printed euro inner sleeves with lyrics – on silver vinyl, black/clear vinyl and standard black vinyl. For those of you on the west coast you can also catch SRSQ live in the following cities:
11.02: San Diego, CA – The Whistle Stop
11.03: San Jose, CA – Ritz #
11.04: Oakland – Elbo Room Jack London
11.06: Portland, OR – Lovecraft #
11.07: Seattle, WA – Timbre Room #
11.10: Los Angeles, CA – Cloak & Dagger at State Theatre
# – with Houses of Heaven
Image Credits: Photo by Kristen Cofer.