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SOT - Monster Master CD (album) cover





3.53 | 12 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Maybe it has been a SOTanic influence to drive my pc crazy when I have added this new SOT release to the site, which resulted in adding it 10 TIMES!!! Ok, it's a great album but one time is enough...

The Norwegian trio is back with a full album release after six years with their mixture of Jazz, Avant and, most of all, lot of fun. I personally love the use of the tuba (called "tubmarine" by Lars) istead of the usual bass guitar, and the album contains also some exciting tuba solos. Let's now speak about the tracks:

"Draugner" is a good start: I'm not good at counting the beats, but I think it's in 7/4. The tempo is very catchy, the chord progression is vaguely dark in the Crimsonian sense ,and in these three minutes and half there's space for a drum solo, a slowed section with electronic noises, like dj scratching, and a dialogue between guitar and tuba. It fades into "Saga Siglar", a short newagey interlude featuring a melodic tuba played over slow percussion and keyboards.

Then comes the title track: the longest of the album scoring about 13 minutes. If you consider that in SOT's music there's usually a lot of stuff going on, you can barely imagine how many things happen on this track. It starts uptime with a dialogue between guitar and tuba playing the same notes while the drummer takes a fast tempo. Then it slows down with an oriental vibe and some jazz appearing in between this interlude, then the coming back to the initial theme, and it's when the variations start. A tuba solo sustained by guitar chord and a keyboard carpet while the drummer is like a metronome. There's also some speech in the tuba, the kind of things that Ian Anderson does with the flute, but without exhibitionism. after about 5 minutes it becomes unexpectedly jazzy. It's like being suddenly teleported into a night club between the two world wars, then the teleport restarts working and everything changes again. A guitar solo on a chord sequence reminding of the YES of the early 80s. and...ok, some spanish flavor and the main theme as the glue between the sections, including some spacey sounds and and avant section with drums and distorted tuba. I don't know how those sounds are obtained, but if this band is classified Avant, there must be a reason. In few words, this is a track I don't think I'll ever get tired of, including the newagey melodic section.

Another surprise: Tilstander features a very melodic guitar arpeggio, later joined by the tuba while the drummer adds atmosphere with the percussion.Great track.

The dialogue between guitar and tuba opens "Mann med Yacht". there's an alternance between this sequence of notes on an impossible signature and a melodic progression sustained y keyboards, then the track enters a rock section including an eciting guitar riff followed by an amazing performance of the tuba. It's also possible to hear some voices speaking, I assume in Norse, but it's quite unnitelliigible.

Again an unusual notes progression on an odd signature. Transcribing this music on a sheet should be a nightmare, but it's worth the effort. Also o this track there's really a lot going on, including a YES like coda. Norway? With somebody singing an "Aum"? "Rolig ěrken" has an oriental flavor, between middle and far East. It starts like a mantra. I'm used to enjoy ambient and folk, I love Kitaro and Yungchen Lhamo, so these first two minutes are a very pleasant moment. Then guitar and tuba play a strange melody with, I think to hear, Arabic and also Indian influences. The notes played by the tuba are incredibly low-pitched. This track is a trip!! It ends suddenly and is replaced by the heavy drums of "Barals Grav" The guitar riff in some parts is similar to AREA's "Cometa Rossa". This makes me think that a vocalist like Demetrio Stratos would have fit very well in the SOT's music. Hint for the band: should you ever decide to have lyrics, give a listen to Claudio Milano and his 7 octaves vocal range.

As in most of the album tracks, guitar and tuba sometimes play in unison. Suddenly a gong introduces a different session, quite newagey that passing through a YES like intrerlude after a minute turns into a sort of uptime rock and roll before coming back to this guitar lead newagey melody. There are also some mute vocals sung by a choir.

This is a very good album, I have the temptation to say that it' SOT's best release, but I should relisten to the other three albums before saying it for sure. Fact is that I have listened to it several times since when Skjalg has gifted me with a downloadable copy and I've never got tired of it, also the melodic newagey final of the album leaves me with the will of starting again. Question: is this or the last Greco Bastian's the best Avant album of the year?

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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