On her sophomore album, the London-born, Berlin-based singer lives in subdued reveries. She strikes a dynamic balance of harmony and discord, of aspirational pop and visceral experimentation.
The “Elsewhere” in Sasha Perera’s stage name should be taken literally. Her music sounds as if it exists in different locations around the globe, in different times and dimensions. But beyond its physicality, it’s also a space for refuge and meditation. On her second album, All of This, Perera Elsewhere captures uncertainty, filters out all that isn’t beautiful and casts it to the universe.
The London-born, Berlin-based singer, who also self-produces her albums, builds on the foundation of her debut Everlast. She spent three years watering those seeds from Turkey to Mumbai and back to Berlin, forcing herself to develop fully-formed songs that wear their international influences boldly. Where experimental music allows room for interpretation, venturing into pop is methodical. Here, there’s definitive structure that still feels spontaneous, traditional instruments—gongs and sitars—tangling themselves in otherworldly noises.
Perera’s gamble on herself pays off, as she strikes a dynamic balance of harmony and discord, of aspirational pop and visceral experimentation. It peaks on “Karam,” a reimagining of 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” as a brooding nocturne where the candy shop is in the basement of a funeral home. “Karam” maintains aspects of its original seductive overtones but feels desolate and detached without the cynical irony that genre-bending covers can be given to. Such an inclusion is a warm welcome for listeners new to Perera’s music and an Easter egg of sorts for those already familiar with her remixes.
All of This is marked by a similar darkness throughout, but Perera lets in light through some cracks. “Tomorrow South,” a largely instrumental track driven by shakers and animated vocalizations, is rose-colored, while the sitar and trumpet melodies on “Runaway” conjure pictures of a sunset overlooking the Arabian Sea. They’re brief glimmers of hope despite their surroundings, moments achieved only when Perera lets her instrumentation and programming do most of the talking. Lyrics aren’t necessarily the focal point in general, but her words, though minimal, are also wrought with emotion and intent.
Album opener and lead single “Something’s Up” features buoyant synth arpeggios but fails to lighten the warning of “Your plans are losing weight/The crows are circling/They know something’s up.” Later, the industrial “Shoes” is equally as dour. Accented with white noise and wilting horns, she sings, “I can’t walk in these shoes/Can’t speak, I can’t move...can’t read all the signs/So deep in this mind fuck.” But even at her most morose, the backdrops become sanctuaries for her confessionals—beauty and burden wrapped in one, as they often are.
Some music requires boundaries and begs for definition, but Perera revels in her own shapeshifting. Her ability to blend sounds that feel ancient and familiar with electro-futurism embodies what it means to experience music and not just hear it. Percussion makes for a compelling bridge—as on “Happened”—but it’s what she does with very little that binds the album together. On the standout title track, she lightens her usually smoldering voice into a whisp; the vocal layers are dense but the production just hovers, swirling and swelling, barely there at all. Like a subdued reverie, All of This sparkles as it creeps along, careful not to disturb but arresting nonetheless.