Friday, 9 April 2021

Sault ‎– 7 (2019)

Funk, Soul, Disco, Afrobeat, Alternative Rock, Post-Punk
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Forever Living Originals

01.   Over
02.   No Bullshit
03.   Feel So Good
04.   Living In America
05.   Tip Toe
06.   Smile And Go
07.   Threats
08.   Red Lights
09.   Friends
10.   Waterfalls

Producer – Inflo 

Mystery is a rare commodity in rock and pop these days. The internet has made investigative journalists of us all, and an artist who expends a lot of effort creating an enigmatic aura will almost invariably find themselves revealed online. So hats off to Sault, who managed to release two albums in 2019 – titled 5 and 7 – without anyone managing to conclusively solve the puzzle of who was behind them.

It was not for want of trying. Some people suggested the involvement of a London-based musician called Dean Josiah, whose CV boasts co-writing and production credits for Michael Kiwanuka, the Saturdays and Little Simz – the last of whom raved about Sault on social media. Others have posited that British soul singer Cleo Sol and Chicago-based rapper and sometime Kanye West collaborator Kid Sister – both signed to Sault’s label, Forever Living Originals – are the vocalists. But no one has confirmed or denied anything.

You can understand why people are intrigued, because both of Sault’s albums are fantastic, walking an idiosyncratic path that zig-zags between ESG-esque post-punk funk, early 80s boogie and something approaching neo-soul, without ever really fitting into any of those categories or sounding like straightforward homage. Whoever is on drums is clearly a big fan of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit: their playing adds a strange, hypnotic intensity to tracks even as laidback and sunlit sounding as 5’s We Are the Sun. Elsewhere, the dubbed-out spaciness of the production consistently gives everything a weird, disorientating edge, no matter how poppy the melodies get.

For all the sparseness of the arrangements – drums and bass, the odd wash of electric piano or blast of fuzzed-out guitar and synth – Sault seem as interested in writing songs as constructing grooves. Virtually every track is concise and to the point, rarely tipping over four minutes, and even the furthest-out moments - 7’s Red Lights or 5’s warped closer BABE – come with really powerful hooks woven through them. The net result feels simultaneously exploratory and confident, a really appealing, intriguing combination. Whoever they are, Sault sound like they know what they’re doing.
Alexis Petridis / The Guardian