Sarah Kinsley Paints a Cinematic Dream Sequence in 'Ascension' EP


Photo: Julia Khoroshilov

When memory becomes material, granular, something you can lightly finesse between your fingers or rake your palm against for texture, it is inevitable to find patterns and gestures from the subconscious that pull emotions from deep inside, plummeting or pulling you to a higher plane. In her latest EP, Ascension, Sarah Kinsley toys with musical mnemonics, sending lucid dreams into your ears that play out as a form of nouveau déjà vu, a cinematic dream sequence of dissonance between what is new and known.

Ascension is the product of an artist well-informed by classical music theory, a student of tension-building direction, a painter measuring palate and brush strokes all with the intent of “naming the thing” within herself, comfortable with uncomfortable introspection. This is a work that lends itself to ineffable commentary, a state of exaggerated pleonasm that truly might end up being one of the best works of 2023 so far. 

The depth of Ascension, its intensely pleasant emotional burden, is its vice-like grip on felt feelings. Every moment here feels visceral, a constant out-of-focus evocation that slowly crystallizes with each layered melody and verse. The bones of the EP are laid barely immediately in the retro and pithy single "Oh No Darling," a song that almost makes you feel you've heard it or hummed it once before. In "Black Horse" the navigation of life's follies is laid bare, the EPs most rhythmically prominent song is buttressed by a joyous choir-like chant of "I'm still too young," a youthful jaunt to counter adulting.

"Ascension" the EP's namesake, emerges as a piano-based melodrama that hints at Kinsley’s classical roots before spinning into a moody ballad, showcasing her voice's tonal range against waves of strings. "Lovegod" is a contrasting song, pitched higher before unraveling into a sunny, dreamy effort that truly feels akin to running into the sun-soaked mind melange of your favorite lovers. "Sliver of Time" hints at '80s electro excess before settling into an ethereal lullaby, a crafted goodbye that builds gently into the sounds of silver clouds.

Without begging for the hyperbolic, with Ascension, Kinsley throws her pop antenna firmly into the internet zeitgeist, and while it may not be inevitable, if you close your eyes, or even better, don’t and hallucinate with them wide open, her rise to become one of the greats of her generation appears to be a dream taking on tangible shape.

Listen to Ascension below:

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