Where To Start With... Sault
In little more than two years, pseudonymous collective Sault have emerged from almost nowhere to become not only one of the most prolific groups around, delivering four albums so far since their debut album 5 arrived in May 2019, but also one of the most exciting.
Perhaps best described as neo-soul – although in truth their sound incorporates everything from R&B to funk, Afrobeat and more – Sault have quietly delivered some of the best albums of the last couple of years, narrowly missing out on this year’s Mercury Prize, and earning plenty of new fans and critical acclaim along the way – despite eschewing the media entirely, to the point that they have yet to release a music video of any kind.
So who, exactly, are Sault? Well, that’s tricky one to answer entirely accurately in the absence of any real information from the group themselves, but we do know that producer Inflo – aka Dean Josiah Cover – is one of they key people behind the project. If that’s a name that doesn’t ring a bell, that’s possibly because he’s stayed largely in the shadows himself up until now, but he certainly has pedigree.
Inflo has worked closely with Michael Kiwanuka on his two most recent albums, winning an Ivor Novello songwriting award for his co-writing on hits like ‘Black Man in a White World’, also acting as co-producer on both Love & Hate and Kiwanuka alongside Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton. He’s also produced the last two albums from London-based rapper Little Simz, including her excellent 2019 album Grey Area, and has worked with a range of other artists including Cleo Sol and Melisa Young (aka Kid Sister).
All of the above have appeared in some form or another on Sault’s four LPs so far, contributing to an incredible string of albums that are remarkable not just for the speed of their delivery, but also for the level of quality retained despite the large amount of material. And they’re not stopping there, either.
June this year saw the digital release of their fifth full-length offering in just over two years. Titled Nine, the album was made available for download and streaming for a period of 99 days before disappearing from their official channels.
Happily, though, their fifth album makes its arrival in physical form this week. Nine makes its arrival in stores on Friday (October 8) and continues their creative purple patch with yet another very string offering, including tracks like ‘London Gangs’ and ‘Trap Life’, while there are also guest appearances from Little Simz (on ‘You from London’) and Michael Ofo on ‘Mike’s Story’.
To celebrate its release we’ve rounded five of their finest moments to date for anyone who’s missed out on what they’ve been up to so far…
‘Why Why Why Why Why’
Taken from Sault’s debut album 5, ‘Why Why Why Why Why’ is one of the obvious standouts from their first full-length offering; a slick, irresistibly danceable grove infused with 80s R&B in the vein of Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, this is one of their debut’s smoothest cuts.
‘Don’t Waste My Time’
Another of the tracks featured on their 2019 debut 5 (and one of the few tracks released as a single), ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ is another of the album’s most infectious grooves (imagine New York funk trio ESG jamming with Afrobeat legend Tony Allen you’ll be somewhere close).
‘Smile and Go’
One of the real gems on Sault’s second LP 7, ‘Smile and Go’ is yet another slice of minimal funk, with hints of 90s R&B in the vocals and a loose, rough feel that typifies their gritty and groovy sound.
Featured on the first of two albums to arrive in 2020, Untitled (Black Is) was a much more overtly political album in its lyrical content – released, as it was, against the backdrop of George Floyd’s death earlier that year – and is perhaps the most powerful song Sault have released to date. Its lyrics certainly pull no punches: “Take off your badge / We all know it was murder.” Soulful, deeply affecting, one of their best yet.
The second Sault’s 2020 albums – Untitled (Rise) – was a much more uptempo, upbeat affair compared to its more sombre predecessor and of its many, many danceable tunes we’ve picked ‘Free’ as one of its standouts (although we could easily have chosen several others). With shades of everything from the easy grooves of The Meters to the joyful, Nigerian funk of William Onyeabor, this is just one highlight from another very strong album.
*Update 08/10* - please not that due to a stock issue Nine will now available in hmv stores from Friday October 15 - you can also find it here in our online store.