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Sot - 2022 - "Monster Master"

(42:50; Sotanic Sounds)


TRACK LIST: 1. Draugner 3:33 2. Saga Siglar 1:36 3. Monster Master 13:30 4. Tilstander 2:25 5. Mann Med Yacht 4:05 6. Sunship 4:22 7. Rolig Orken 5:13 8. Barals Grav 8:06 LINE UP: Skjalg Reithaug - guitars, synthesizers, keyboards, effects Lars Andreas Haug - tuba, wind instruments, voice, keyboards Arild Nyborg - drums, percussion, shrutibox, didgeridoo, voice, keyboards, effects with: Oscar Andreas Haug - trumpet Camilla Susann Haug - vocals Elin Reithaug - dulcimer

Prolusion. Norwegian band Sot is a venture with the roots going all the way back to the 1990's, but with the actual band formation taking place at a later stage. They took the first steps out from total obscurity with their debut album "Kind of Saltz" back in 2011. and have released new material every few years since then. The name of their fourth and most recent studio production is "Monster Master", which was released through their own label Sotanic Sounds towards the end of 2022.

Analysis. Sot is a different band in many respects, and that they prefer to use the tuba instead of a regular bass guitar is one of the more distinct features. That they shy away from vocals in the regular sense is another, albeit on this occasion at least we do have vocals used as instrument textures and talking voices used as effect as parts of the total experience, hence this isn't an instrumental production as such. But it is still an album without any regular vocals present. The band does include a fair few elements from jazz here. The manner in which the compositions switch between different phases is one such aspect, the use of the tuba itself does add a jazz tinge to the proceedings too, and that we get a liberal amount of more delicate, searching phases bordering the ambient and dreamladen as well as technical and quirky details with a bit more of a free form touch to them all point in that direction. The occasional use of world music elements is perhaps a more accidental nod towards jazz, but at least world music elements aren't exactly unheard of inside a jazz context. In between this we get plenty of sections with a tighter and harder display. Hard drums and harder riffs that adds a rock as well as a metal dimension to the proceedings, whether it is by way of quirky movements, chugging riffs or groove-oriented patterns. With the tuba a constant presence, sometimes as a subtle supporting undercurrent, on other occasions with a more dominant display with the guitars having more of a supporting role, and elsewhere with the brass and the guitars as equal partners in sound (or crime, depending on personal taste in music). Keyboards come in to enhance and add additional textures to the arrangements when called upon, often adding a softer touch to an arrangement but is also used to add a more distinct depth or presence to some parts. And while the triangle of jazz, rock and metal is the one mainly explored, and then inside of a progressive framework, we also get a cut or two where the band opts to take a side step into realms with a bit more of a psychedelic nature, complete with a few cosmic tangents. As with many other bands that have chosen to explore music that exist in a bit more of an avant defined space, the mix and production is immaculate throughout. Perhaps not quite at the levels of a Steven Wilson, but well above average for sure and I don't think there are too many audiophiles out there that will have critical words to say about this aspect of the total experience.

Conclusion. Sot is a band that makes unusual music, and presumably for unusual people. Progressive rock with a small touch of metal and a liberal inclusion of jazz is what we get here. Jazzrock perhaps, avant progressive rock for sure, with words such as exotic, unusual and experimental all coming across as good choices to describe the contents. Progressive rock for those who tend to enjoy the more challenging aspects of the genre.

Progmessor: December 2022
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