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SOT - Redwings Nest CD (album) cover





3.84 | 13 ratings

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4 stars SOT's followup to their debut "Kind of Saltz in 2011 comes three years later with "Redwing's Nest". Norwegian proggers Skjalg Reithaug, guitars, vocals, Lars Andreas Haug, tubmarine, trumpet, sounds, and Anders Hunstad, drums, piano, perform a quirky brand of jazz fusion with a distinct RIO feel and smatterings of manic time sigs and jerky spasmodic rhythms. In the same vein as the debut, the group inject odd meters and spellbinding musical patterns into the melodies, impulsively jumping from one estranged idea to the next seamlessly, mercilessly, and with the flash and boldness of King Crimson or Van der Graaf Generator. The album cover has a delightful artistic flair depicting an Oriental watercolour of a Cherokee Indian Angelic figure. More art like this would have been wonderful but the album is devoid of a booklet, so I prefer the debut's packaging that was so innovative and thought provoking.

The band adopt a unique soundscape focussing on a primarily instrumental approach, but with a few oddities and "audiospices" thrown in with vocal intonations and some dialogue to enhance the music. At moments, such as the title track, there is a dirty metal guitar riff with all the finesse of 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic', but then a sudden transition with a horn and the band launch into squelchy synthesizer lines. The 'Lark's' riff distortion is also heard on 'Journey' but it is so appropriate to break up the keyboard and lead guitar work, that often feels improvised. There are layers of instruments overlapped at times sounding like they are from 3 different songs but somehow it works as the ear becomes attuned to the spontaneity and chaos. The female vocals from guest vocal group PUST are very uplifting and cleanse the grunginess of the atmospheres at times, especially on 'Journey' a spiritual fusion of Avant garde, Ambiance and Jazz.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of SOT is their original method of using horns as the lead instrument, and the tuba dominates much of the melody such as on the compelling, translucent 'Han Sagde Sa'. There are blasts of heavy metal that schizophrenically battle with tuba and trumpet such as on 'Second Row', a definite highlight on this release and the heaviest track.

The rhythms on tracks such as 'Tore Hund' are intricate and amusing in the way the instruments are switched recklessly from heavy 70s psych guitar to a glockenspiel sound, then after some caterwauling some Frippian like guitar is heard and then an abrupt stop. One is never really sure where the music is heading or in what direction the band will take and this is the most endearing and exciting characteristic of SOT.

The music takes on surreal passages of Avante clashes between decisive horns and guitars and the percussion holds it all together. There are serene streams of keyboard washes, offset by quick outbursts of drum patter and guitar breaks played in perfect synth; a technical triumph that is beautiful at times and broken with jagged guitar motifs that lock in with admirable precision. The opening track 'They called me Sotanic' is a tour de force of highly engaging, exhilarating music blazing with fiery guitar and turbulent tuba. 'Odd Jethagrythe' overflows with fractured rhythmical metrical patterns, splintered drum beats and dynamic lead accompanied by chirping whistles.

'Ming Mang Dynasty' has an Oriental vibe, then launches full tilt into hyper horn and very well executed guitar motifs blasting out the quirky time sig that keeps the metronome swinging wildly out of control. 'Morrakvisten' is another grandiose example of trumpet playing and features some raucous twin lead guitar playing over an intricate signature. 'Jan Mayen' proves the band are capable of some mellower melodic music, with some lovely horn solos and ambient choral sections, though the disarray of quick musical tantrums still prevail in places. It is as though the guitars are bursting through a dam wall to make their presence felt with violent ferocity.

Overall, "Redwing's Nest" is a grand followup to the scorching debut, a showcase of infernal guitar, soothing horns and off kilter jazz drumming. SOT are worth listening to without a doubt and play some of the best instrumentals I have heard in a long while. It would be interesting to see where the band goes from here, whether the next album will feature more singing or additional instruments, and perhaps more conceptual material. The music takes on all kinds of musical ideas, and is perpetually adventurous and outrageously impetuous. For all these reasons SOT are a band worthy of our attention.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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