When you have a voice borne straight out of a dream, what do you use it to sing of?
Anoushka Maskey sings of humanity’s self-made doom.
In her debut EP Things I Saw in a Dream, Maskey established herself as a crooner of deep-souled sadnesses. She revealed herself as being able to achieve dizzying depths of wonder and grief without ever letting go of her gentleness. She continues to toe the line in C.E.A.S.E, getting under your goosebumps with the sweltering lustre of her voice while lyrically describing terror and despair.
Verses such as “Enter the end/Here is where we begin/ in reverie” and “Save all your tears/ nothing to come of it/ just bend your knee” invoke visions of the apocalypse next door. The entire EP, in fact, spins tales of a dying world. Though ostensibly fictional, it is a scathingly accurate representation of the real world, doomed to burn as humanity plunders the environment for pleasure and privilege.
As the EP opens with Swansong, the listener is confronted with a metaphorical blade to the throat.
“In today’s news/ Humanity has been forsaken”
Cased in molten distortion, Maskey offers a straight-faced narration of how humans have poisoned the Earth, and how we can look forward to being driven to extinction ourselves. Her fatalism is a reminder of our mostly buried conscience – “This is our swansong”.
Maskey’s melodic protagonist is an image of defeat. Her euphony is immediately mesmeric, soft yet resolute, drawn straight out of a moment of fatalistic inspiration. Her voice cuts the image of a heart made bitter by the world it has to live in.
Nonetheless, even in darkness, she cannot help but offer redemptive, healing beauty. Amidst all her meticulous instrumental mathematics, it is her voice that transmutes gloom into gold. Her proclamations of isolation
“I got company, my whiskey neat, filled to the brim”
give us every reason to gather and celebrate with multiple replays.
C.E.A.S.E seeks to dishearten, and yet manages to soothe. Perhaps this defeats Maskey’s artistic intention, but it leaves listeners with a four-song soundtrack that can draw water out of stone.
In other words, though she sings of the end, it is impossible not to love every syllable of that song.
Verdict: Anoushka Maskey manages to make the end of world sound like a cold kiss on a fevered head.