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SOT

RIO/Avant-Prog • Norway


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SOT biography
SOT consists of musicians from the jazz-, metal- and pop scene in Oslo. The band members (Skjalg Reithaug, Anders Hunstad, and Lars Andreas Haug) studied music in high school in 1992 and formed a quite unusual band. And since then they have played at obscure clubs and birthdays. It was not until later they decided to put all their time and effort in SOT.

The music is abrupt and consists of many fragments. When you think you have digested one theme, another one starts. The band enjoys odd time signatures and heavy grooves, sometimes with a dash of childish melodies included. Their distinctive music and live performance gave the band a spot in Rikskonsertene (Norwegian Concerts Institute) 2012 program. They will be touring at schools in South-Trřndelag in the winter of 2012 and after this continue their musical activity throughout the year.

SOT have released their debut album "Kind Of Saltz" on the Sotanic Sounds label in December, 2011.

: : : Skjalg Reithaug, Norway : : :

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SOT discography


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SOT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 21 ratings
Kind Of Saltz
2011
3.79 | 9 ratings
Redwings Nest
2014

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SOT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Redwings Nest by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Redwings Nest
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars Ok, let's attempt a review about one year after my last one... I have loved the first excellent album of this Norwegian trio and I have to say that this follow-up, even if quite different, is as good as that. There are some intersting news: Lars doesn't play tuba only but we can hear an excellent trumpet riff on "Morrakvisten", plus some noises and sounds throughout the album which should be coming from his pot. Skjalg's guitar is more "rude" and distorted, especially on the first three tracks, but also later there are some very rocking parts. Last but not least, it's good hearing a drummer-pianist not playing pop tunes in his old age.... The tracks are shorter respect to Kind of Saltz, but to me this means that the band has gone directly to the core of the musical ideas. The hard start becomes softer while progressing with the tracks, some jazzy moments are not far from Canterbury, but sometimes the energy rises again. Another new is that there are some guests. Cello and strings add a touch of chamber rock. The vocalists are at work not only to sing (few) but also to add speeches and a touch of crazyness to some tracks (but I haven't given much attention to them, honestly). This album is probably less spontaneous than the first, but it's more mature.

I apologize with the band for this is surely a low-quality review, but it's my first after a lot of time. If you have liked the debut which I actually rated with 4 stars, this doesn't deserve less. If you have missed it, this album will appeal fans of King Crimson which I suspect is one of the prinicipal influencer of the band, but also Canterbury in general. It appears clear that there's a lot of jazz skill behind the trio and even in the darkest moments the music is not too difficult even for listeners not used with this kind of things.

Morrakvisten and the title track are may personal favorites, but all the album is athe same excellent level.

4 full stars

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 Kind Of Saltz by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Kind Of Saltz
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by admireArt

4 stars If Porcupine Tree dreamed a Tuba in Zeuhl and met Metallica along the way.....

An eclectic Avant Garde effort by Oslo's trio SOT. "Kind Of Saltz" 2011, is masterfully performed in all the extension of the word, yet composition wise it is a bit short of being that unique.

After all, the Tuba as such is usually considered and underestimated, as an "odd" and "cheap/humor" instrument in all kind of music environments.

But here in the open-minded RiO/AV prog sub-genre, it is as always, quiet welcomed, as any other kind of "misfit" instrument in the maistream music world.

OK!, After the thrill of listening to Of's Tuba counterpointing to perfection every rhythm of Tusj's drumming, and especially to the riffs and licks of the low-keyed but masterful Salt, the electric guitar player, I can not help but make some music associations and in fact I am not the only one as far as other SOT reviewers.

Yet I chose the "Porcupiners" because SOT's musical language is quiet "refined", as opposed to early Zappa or Robert Fripp's King Crimson (or even Mahavishnu O.), who were more focused on perfection through less Post/Math clean-cut manners and through rougher and more natural ways , like the kind of refinement Steven Wilson and company did later with those same influences.

Metallica because this kind of electric guitar full chords reminds me of them and finally Zeuhl, because the few singing is unintelligible.

All in all a highly promising first record which blends Jazz with Metal, in a very Rock in Opposition syncopated rhythm language, but also in electric guitar post/math's space/psychedelia atmospheres. With touches of angry riffs and delicate melodies (or both), which contrasts and enhances the perfect-pitch performances.

Adding to that a precise dossage of humor, this effort is well worth ****4 PA stars.

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 Redwings Nest by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Redwings Nest
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Andy Webb
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars Dynamism in music is perhaps my favorite aspect of listening to progressive rock. The breadth of the human imagination is boundless, especially when it comes to the creation of music. Avant garde music, in its various forms, is perhaps the best at this, as musicians who play this genre purposefully take the accepted norms of music and transform them into either beasts or beauties or musical creations. This experimentation does not come without its share of risk, however, as the composition and performance of music that has not already been tested and reviewed before can often lead to harsh ridicule or simply a lack of listeners.

SOT, a Norwegian avant-jazz rock band that has been around the avant scene for less than five years now, is no stranger to this risk. Their debut 2011 album Kind of Saltz was a hit amongst fans of experimental and adventurous music, myself included. The band blended a unique groovy rock backing with tuba-driven jazz riffs and motifs. The album was exciting, unpredictable, and fun to listen to. The disorganized mish-mash of riffs and styles combined for a unique, different, and altogether enjoyable album.

When I received the bands next album, Redwing's Nest, I was very excited. The band had not released an album since their debut three years prior, and I was hungry for more of the band's spicy blend of Norwegian avant jazz rock. After my first spin, however, I was confused. It felt, on first listen, that the band had lost their spark. Kind of Saltz had a ferocious yet restrained pep to them, giving a raw energy to both the melodic and not so melodic aspects of the album. From the outset, Redwing's Nest seemed to be the product of a couple of weekend jam sessions that produced a lot of great ideas that had little cohesion. But as a veteran of their first album, I was convinced I was missing something and refused to have my opinion shaped by a single listen.

I was right, to a degree. The twists and turns of SOT's music still had that element of defiance against musical norms, and a number of the songs on the album, such as "They Called Me Sotanic," "Jan Meyen," "Redwing's Nest," and "Second Row," had that element of careless abandon that made their last album so special. The instrumentation was tight and purposeful; the arrangement showed power where strength was needed and restraint where a gentler or more whimsical motif was played. This is showed best in "Second Row," which is easily the best song on the album, showing each of the band's many, many styles. The band, as they showed on their last album, can switch between a pulsating metal riff, a feathery alto sax melody, and a weaving guitar-driven avant garde riff.

Much of the rest of the album, however, felt hopelessly disorganized. I could easily tell what the band was doing with each song, and on their own, many of the riffs are brilliant, but together, there are too many songs that feel forced. The transitions are weakly formed, and the songs blend together in a less-than-appealing way. For some, this reckless song formation will be attractive, as the songs themselves are not bad in any way. The band members play with drive and passion, and the writing is a prime example of what avant garde music can be. For me, however, I was disappointed with how little it seemed the arrangement of the parts seemed to have been thought out. I'm sure the band spent a considerable amount of time on this, and I'm afraid that it didn't show as well as they had hoped.

In the end, this album is in no way bad. All in all, it's a very enjoyable album to listen to. While I would prefer to listen to "Schlatan" for Kind of Saltz compared to "Second Row," this album shows that SOT still has a strong muse and can belt out a killer riff when they want to. Redwing's Nest is a really good album, but it will only be excellent for those who enjoy the form of avant prog that is played by bands with a stronger emphasis on riff diversity than riff cohesion. 3+ stars.

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 Redwings Nest by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Redwings Nest
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

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.

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 Redwings Nest by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Redwings Nest
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Redwings Nest" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian avant/progressive rock act SOT. The album was released through Sotanic Sounds in June 2014. "Redwings Nest" features the same three-piece lineup who recorded the band´s debut full- length studio album "Kind of Saltz (2011)". Skjalg Reithaug (guitars, vocals), Lars Andreas Haug (tubmarine, trumpet, sounds), Anders Hunstad (drums, piano).

The music on the album continues the adventurous take on jazz rock and progressive/avant garde rock as SOT introduced on "Kind of Saltz (2011)". There is a proud Scandinavian tradition for playing a slightly twisted take on this kind of music, which an artist like Samla Mammas Manna is also an example of (without further comparison). It´s this catagory that SOT also belong in. While there are many nods towards jazz because of the scales and the notes chosen, the fusion drumming, and the use of tuba and trumpet in a rock music format, this is certainly not straight jazz (whatever that is). These guys simply wouldn´t be content with playing within the boundaries of a certain musical style and they make sure to incorporate enough challenging and intriguing genre pushing elemens for that never to happen. They even stretch as far as to incorporate heavy metal sounding riffing to some of their tracks. Examples of that can be found in the title track (a charming avant garde rock beast of a track) and in "Second Row".

So it´s safe to say the listener is met with an adventurous and challenging listen when spinning "Redwings Nest". Fortunately SOT also know how to write a song that sticks. Not necessarily in a mainstream vers/chorus format but still accessible and inviting, even though "regular" commercial radio listeners might not agree with me here (but who cares about them?).

The three guys in the band are greatly skilled and an incredibly well playing unit. Like the case was on the debut album the tuba, which is playing the bass parts, is one of the things in the soundscape that really stands out a lot. Who would have thought that a tuba could sound so amazing and powerful (almost brutal at times) in a jazz rock setting? The rest of the instruments and the sparse vocals (both male and female) also work really well together and the whole thing is packed in a powerful and organic sound production which suits the music perfectly.

This is neither the most complex nor the most demanding jazz rock album in the world (although it´s still pretty challenging), but it´s a damn charming one, that refuses to bow to convention, and that´s always praise worthy. To my ears "Kind of Saltz (2011)" and "Redwings Nest" are pretty equal in quality and also in style and if you enjoy one it´s pretty likely you´ll enjoy the other too. SOT are arguably a class act (whith a charming wacky side) and prove it once again on "Redwings Nest" and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

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 Redwings Nest by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.79 | 9 ratings

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Redwings Nest
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Three years on from a fascinating debut, Norway's SOT return with another fragmented and quirky blast of their curious and defiantly unique take on progressive sounds with `Redwing's Nest'. A trio, although not the usual guitars/keyboards/drums set-up, instead favouring any combination of trombone/sax/trumpets over synths and bass, they create colourful and punchy music that runs through everything from jazz/fusion, metal, Rock In Opposition (R.I.O), Zeuhl, psych and avant-garde, often in the space of one piece, and this follow-up sees the band further honing their skills, still exploring new possibilities and endless potential directions. Their speciality is quick and tight musical bursts with skilfully implemented improvisations worked seamlessly into their compositions, and this time around it also appears that King Crimson have proven to be something of an inspiration for the band.

In under four minutes, the amusingly titled opener `They Called Me Sotanic...' tears through chiming guitar mystery, weaving Crimson-like metallic riffs, trumpeting horns, jazzy electric piano noodling, stop/start unpredictable drumming and even a few seconds of funky scat vocals, all wrapped within abrupt tempo changes back and forth! Puffing tuba races to keep up with spiky guitar grunge heaviness in `Odd Jethegrythe' that almost has a cheeky Gong-like quality, then twisting metal riffs throughout `Ming Mang Dynasty' (one of the longer pieces at over five minutes) thrash around late-night jazzy waffling and quirky keyboard soloing. The high energy `Morrakvisten' is a storm of serrated sharp little maddening guitar shreds that frequently grooves, the thoughtful and restrained `Jan Mayen' - one of the best pieces on the album - has shimmering delayed guitars with a lovely melancholic trumpet solo (nice to hear the band slow things down for a few moments!), and spacey electronics cling to unravelling electric guitar soloing heaviness throughout `Anne Kath'.

On the six-minute title track `Redwing's Nest', SOT take avant-garde noise to extremes, with unnerving unhinged wordless choral voices from vocal choir group Pust that almost bring a Zeuhl quality, a slow marching beat and deranged guitar mangling, with only a few brief ambient Post-Rock styled soothing passages to offer any respite. `Second Row' is a straighter jazz/fusion workout, `Han Sagde Sa' a slightly eerie and dark cinematic ambient experience (a exciting new direction the band may take further in the future?), `Tore Hund' a ripping blast of pschedelic guitar energy, and `Journey' wraps the album on a beautifully executed slowly unwinding Post Rock ethereal finale.

This is the prog equivilent of multiple personality disorder, for those who like their music random and unpredictable, played by a band bursting with talent, imagination and a refrshing sense of humour! Admittedly some listeners may be put off by the constant split-second changes of direction throughout much of the disc, and I personally would love to see the band try their hands at more longer extended pieces in the future (they work beautifully here). They shouldn't worry that not working in spontaneous direction changes all the time might rob them off their identity, as I feel their wind instrument choices makes them more than stand out already. But for now it's great to discover that `Redwing's Nest' sees the band building on all the potential they showed on their superb debut while maturing, all the time discovering new exciting musical avenues. It makes this one another album from SOT that comes highly recommended.

Four stars.

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 Kind Of Saltz by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Kind Of Saltz
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars It's very hard to know where to begin with the knockout debut album from Norway trio Sot! Comprised of three musicians with 20 years experience in a diverse range of musical styles, one of them a tuba player that replaces the need for a bass player (which instantly makes the listener raise an eyebrow!), the band tears through a bafflingly eclectic amount of genres and styles to make a huge musical statement. How to describe it...take the slightly unnerving atmosphere of an RIO/Avant prog band, the spasmodic twists and turns of Frank Zappa, the hyperactive kinetic attack of math rock, then throw in a pinch of the best of Canterbury, loopy jazz diversions, metallic riffing, all topped off with a love of all things King Crimson and you might have your foot in the door to understanding what the band is up to here. All of these are present right from the first track, tightly played with an exhausting energy, and it just even gets better from there.

Percolating tuba pumps through the slightly tense middle-eastern motives that run around `Tusjpan', a mix of `Power To Believe'-era King Crimson with it's maddening repetitive and almost metallic melodies, quirky synth solos, dialogue fragments and powerful rattling drumming. Some very spiky energy on this one, and despite the mix of directions, it all hangs together beautifully.

The two distinct sections of `Follower' brings an early album highlight, at first a more serious and sedate piece with a somber guitar melody, steady drumming, and wordless sighed female vocals. This all creates a very moody reflective atmosphere before an abrupt and sudden Gong-like cut-in plus some heavy brooding menace before eventually drifting back to the first part with an added sorrowful trumpet outro. Great stuff.

`Saltpetersyre' is a crunching metal blast spiced up with waffling jazzy tuba, devil-may-care spiraling guitar fury and raging drumwork.

`Stotten' is deeply and darkly funky one minute, slowly grooving, unnerving and hypnotic the next, with a psychedelic synth solo the Ozric Tentacles would be very proud of in the middle and a drifting ambient diversion thrown in for good measure too. The bits where the band holds back and tones things down like this work extremely well, so perhaps even more of this next time!

While `Oftebrua' is bookended with a furious metallic snap, the jazzy drumming, cooing Richard Sinclair-like sighed vocals and fuzzy electric piano soloing is the stuff Canterbury dreams are made of!

The longer finale track `Tzar Saltan' showcase some incredibly tight group playing that incorporates everything from grooving heavy metal malevolence, icy maddening Crimson atmospheres, comical circus-like loopiness and even some warped scat vocalizing that Focus would be proud of.

There's a number of shorter pieces that also work exceedingly well. I suspect Gong's Daevid Allen would be proud of the maniacal and frantic energy of the loopy hell-raising `Bartof', while the ambient `Den Avsagde' provides a soulful and haunting respite from the bluster of much of the rest of the album. The emotional connection you'll make with the laid back guitar of `End of Saltz' is something you'd expect from King Crimson's Adrian Belew, it sounds like nothing else here and is yet another real high point.

Some might be put off by the run-through of so many varied sounds, but I suspect most will be knocked back and dazzled by what they are hearing. You won't be witness a more unpredictable album anytime soon, and it's bands like this that really lead the direction for the future of truly progressive music. Sure, plenty of us prog fans enjoy a new album from one of the vintage legends, or from some established later acts, but the survival of our favourite genre is dependent on nurturing, appreciating and supporting promising bands such as Sot.

Highly recommended!

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 Kind Of Saltz by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Kind Of Saltz
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars When SOT were suggested for inclusion, long time ago, I immediately liked the samples and gave my vote. Then I have forgotten them until I have seen a review on the home page. Now I'm happy to suggest this excellent album to everybody likes non-trivial music, a bit of experimentation and good musicianship. This is not a challenging album. Of course it's not very radio-friendly but I'm sure that rock specialized radios wouldn't have problems in putting some of the songs on air.

This is a trio, and as everybody knows, a trio is the most difficult line to play in from a technical point of view, and the first thing which hits the ears is the use of Tuba instead of bass. Not as strange as it could seem, it contributes in giving a jazz accent to what I can consider eclectic prog. It's curious that the music reminds me to the great Pekka Pohjola and the Bass is totally missing.

I love the hard intro and the challenging signature of "Schlatan", the "Canterbury influence of "Tusjpan" and the grotesque, a little Oldieldish "Bartof".

The lazy tempo of "Follower" and its mixture of jazz and heaviness is exciting, "Saltpetersyre" is between Crimson and Yes, and hearing the tuba in unison with the guitar is amazing.

"Dan Avsagde" is a short Tuba solo followed by "Statten" which is one of the most challenging tracks, between chamber rock and jazz. Very tasty but not easy. Its calm and quiet second half is very ambient and its jazzy final is exciting.

The album proceeds with "End Of Saltz", reminding me of Soft Machine but with a Floydian guitar and the omnipresent Tuba. Short but great. "Oftebrua" is more RIO oriented, a track which totally justifies the inclusion of SOT in this subgenre, but still with a Canterbury flavor . A lovely track with a fantastic jazz piano.

The album is closed by the longest track: "Tzar Saltan". It's a track made of many different things tied together, but not just a patchwork. Even if the structure seems to be not recursive, it flows without sudden breaks. Also on this track, the unison of Guitar and Tuba is remarkable, especially when the guitar is distorted and heavy.

A 4.5 stars album. I rate it with 4 by now but I could change my mind with the time. Strongly suggested.

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 Kind Of Saltz by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 21 ratings

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Kind Of Saltz
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars SOT are a dynamic trio of avant jazz metal innovators, hailing from Norway, who have released a vigorous spirited debut, "Kind of Saltz". The orgiastic music jumps in spasms with blocks of jazz epilepsy, and then entrances in the next stanza with lucid sinuous strands of tranquillity. The guitars are always on hand to bring the melodic lines from the hand of Skjalg Reithaug. The tempos are everchanging and jolt the ear driven by sporadic percussion by Anders Hunstad. The final augmentation is the low ominous tones of the tuba expertly played by Lars Andreas Haug. It is perhaps this instrument alone that elevates the music above the average band, as there are few bands who use the tuba with such finesse. As a Euphonium player from the past myself, I can really appreciate the dexterity of the tuba playing, knowing how difficult it is to handle that brutish brass monster.

The album is instrumental apart from some odd Magma like vocal intonations that come across as part of the music rather than lyrics as such. Occasionally there are some odd dialogue effects and whimsical scat vocals similar to Focus' Thisj at times. The tracks tend to utilise a variety of styles rather than maintaining the one, and this is essential to the development of the music and the sheer exploratory nature of the band. At one place you may be blasted with spasmodic jerks of guitar and then on the next track there will be passages of calm tuba. There is an infectious exuberance in the sound, a band that is clearly inspired and content to play the way they feel in a non-conformist manner, and this is refreshing.

The music is out of the box in tracks such as 'Schlatan' that opens with a cavalcade of boisterous brass seizures, and guitar distortion, until it settles on a semblance of a melody before motoring back to jump start expulsions; simply delirious wake up music. The lead break is killer and then there is a brass embellishment replacing a bassline, sounding a bit like the aliens in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The tempo slows down for a time until we return to the breakneck speed of the opening and then it ends abruptly; astounding music.

Some tracks are quirky and short, others are more complex and avant. It never gets too much for the ear and grows on you after a few listens. The hammering guitar riffs are off the scale in places but it is the tuba that always appeases my senses. It is such an odd instrument to hear in this style of music but it seems to work perfectly and the album would not be as endearing without it.

'End of Saltz' is perhaps the highlight of the album, opening with a familiar guitar melody sounding like the harmonics in the intro of Metallica's 'Sanitarium'. Then it moves into the jazz odyssey of outlandish avant prog, it never wears out its welcome as the tracks do not meander on one rhythm for too long, but rather lock into a melody or a densely layered time sig, and then get out without fanfare. SOT know how to bludgeon the listener with hammering riffs, and then pull back to allow the instruments to breathe sailing on the crest of a soundwave.

'Tzar Saltan' is another stand out track with an Arabian flavour initially, and then it spirals wildly into fast outbursts. It then slows back to the opening melody. Without warning, it screeches back into the frenetic tempo, before jumping to a metal rhythm and then some quirky melodies that are humorously familiar. It moves into a strong rock guitar figure, and then some high piercing vocals evolve into a new instrument; this is where I am reminded of the work of Thisj from Focus. It is a wonderful way to close the album.

The packaging is very intriguing consisting of a front cover of a salt factory expelling some kind of billowing smoke. An emu screams in terror in the foreground. The factory is oddly designed with tuba bells on either side and an enigmatic parlophone phonogram bell in the middle. This same bell appears on each illustration in the booklet. In the inner sleeve we see that the factory has lifted off as a rocket and is joining its airborne state along with some hot air balloons in the whitened sky. The picture hidden by the CD shows the phonogram bell attached to a cart in some abandoned warehouse with some emus wandering around. The back cover portrays the darkened image of the band. It is an effective design and so compelling that I wished there had been more pages to enjoy.

Overall, "Kind of Saltz" is a powerhouse debut from this adventurous trio, and the bold and brash approach to the music is inspirational. The music is replete with weird and jagged guitar phrases, enmeshed with some hyperactive drum time signatures that move well outside the standard 4/4 rock signature, and punctuated by effervescent tuba and vocals. It is tight, punchy and easy to enjoy. I recommend it for its inventive slant on the music that is always brimming over with complexity and innovation.

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 Kind Of Saltz by SOT album cover Studio Album, 2011
4.00 | 21 ratings

BUY
Kind Of Saltz
SOT RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Kind of Saltz" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian avant garde rock/metal act SOT. The album was released in late 2011 through Sotanic Sounds. SOT consists of three very seasoned musicians in Skjalg Reithaug, Anders Hunstad and Lars Andreas Haug, who during the last 20 years have been involved in a wide plethora of projects ranging from pop music to jazz to progressive rock and avant garde.

...the main instrumentation on the album are guitar, drums and tuba. Besides those three main instruments the music is occasionally coloured by instruments like saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar synth, piano and some no word/lyrics vocals. The latter work more like an instrument than "regular" vocals. While all instruments add to the soundscape, it´s the presence of the tuba that really sets SOT apart from most other acts. I had no idea tuba playing could sound this cool. Most of the time tuba player Lars Andreas Haug lays down some really wicked basslines on the tuba to compensate for the fact that the lineup doesn´t feature a bassist, but he often add other "non bass" type sounds to the music too.

Despite being fairly complex and challenging, the music is actually surprisingly accessible. That´s not exactly something that can be said about most avant garde rock/metal releases. I hear influences from jazz, chamber classical, avant garde rock/metal and more than a nod towards Frank Zappa. Even though the music is mostly instrumental there´s still a great humour/silly element present and a strong sense that these three guys are having great fun.

"Kind of Saltz" features a strong organic sound production, which further enhances the listening experience. That coupled with the outstanding musicianship and the adventurous songwriting make "Kind of Saltz" quite the enjoyable album. It´s the kind of release where I´m kept on my toes all the way through the playing time. New stylistic elements are introduced constantly and you never know where the songs go. While that may sound chaotic, in reality that´s far from the truth. SOT are skilled songwriters who manage to keep the songs together and incorporate hooks and recognisable elements. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

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