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(42:41, ‘Sotanic Sounds’)
TRACK LIST: 1. They Called Me Sotanic 3:51 2. Odd Jethegrythe 2:59 3. Ming-Mang Dynasty 5:17 4. Morrakvisten 2:32 5. Jan Mayen 3:32 6. Anne Kath 3:37 7. Redwings Nest 6:09 8. Second Row 3:23 9. Han Sagde Saa 2:36 10. Tore Hund 2:52 11. Journey 5:53 LINEUP: Skjalg Reithaug – guitars, vocals Lars Haug – tubmarine, trumpet Anders Hunstad – drums; piano With: Elisabeth Anvik – vocals Haavard Gravdal – vocals Camilla Susann Haug – vocals Knut Arne Finsrud – strings John Ehde – cello
Prolusion. The Norwegian band SOT, short for Salt Of Tusj, has been around since 1992, when the threesome started out as a school band. The band is notable for a core instrumentation consisting of drums, guitars and tuba, which isn't the most common in the annals of rock history. They released their debut album "Kind of Saltz" in 2011. "Redwings Nest" is their second full-length production, released through the band's own label Sotanic Sounds in 2014.
Analysis. Guitars, tuba and drums are a combination one might try to imagine a lot about in terms of how a trio with this instrumentation might sound, but unless you have a vivid fantasy, bordering the edges of sanity, you would most likley not be able to think your way through to the direction explored by this particular band, at least not all of them. Because this isn't a band exploring a specific subset of music, but rather one of those bands that take existing rules, guidelines and traditions and decide to run them through a filter with a fairly high degree of avant-garde and eclectic tendencies. The band is fond of their metal, so dark, massive riffs of the kind not light-years away from old Metallica pop up here and there, with a circulating tuba beneath and steady, firm rhythms. That there's room for a fragile, plucked guitars and saxophone passage midways comes as the most natural of developments for this band. On other occasions they may venture into more Robert Frippian landscapes with quirky guitar movements, both dark and riff based, as well as lighter toned and dissonant, more melody based ones, and pair them off with a folk music-inspired run, with childish, naive vocal lines tossed in for the heck of it. The track Jan Mayen shows a band that by plan or accident explores a post rock-tinged landscape as well, with room for a jazz-tinged trumpet solo and a few Frippian touches here as well, and earlier on Ming-Mang Dynasty pairs off atmospheric-laden, Asian inspired cinematic sounds with jazz rock and a fine, engaging brass rock section. With a few grimy metal interludes tossed into the mix because, well, why not? That the concluding composition Journey opens as a kind of a dark toned, post metal-inspired affair and ends up in a delightful, majestic strings and non-verbal vocals driven creation kind of fits the bill too, on an album that doesn't adhere to any well-known guidelines, and where you can expect to experience the unexpected. The compositions are generally short, and can be both fragmented, chaotic and fast to ever-changing, especially the shorter pieces, while the longer ones, those around the 5-minute mark, tend to feature more elongated sequences where one or more themes or arrangements are explored more in depth, relatively speaking and then within the context of this particular production. Fairly well executed at that too I think, although the zaniness of Anne Kath didn't quite manage to maintain my attention. For Norwegian readers I might add that this goes for this song solely, as I find the comedian the song is named after too often comes across as rather funny.
Conclusion. "Redwings Nest" is a production that should appeal to those with an interest in music that bends, breaks and transcends common and uncommon boundaries and traditions in music alike at most times, and then occasionally deciding to explore more predictable territories on a few select occasions thus maintaining an unpredictable edge. Jazz and metal are arguably the main stylistic flavors explored, and then within an avant-garde progressive rock context with defined eclectic tendencies as the main mark of identity. A challenging production that comes recommended to those who have an ongoing curiosity about the eclectic and avant-garde parts of the progressive rock universe.
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