SOT
Avant-garde Metal • Norway

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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-Trøndelag 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
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SOT Discography

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.. Album Cover 4.00 | 7 ratings
Kind of Saltz
Avant-garde Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Redwings Nest
Avant-garde Metal 2014

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SOT Reviews

SOT Redwings Nest

Album · 2014 · Avant-garde Metal
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UMUR
"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.

SOT Kind of Saltz

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

SOT Kind of Saltz

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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UMUR
"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.

SOT Kind of Saltz

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
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J-Man
Although all of the musicians in SOT have had quite a bit of experience in the Scandinavian musical landscape, Kind of Saltz is their first recorded effort as a collective unit. And what an impressive debut it is! SOT is a band that's tough to put your finger on, and their arousing blend of jazz, metal, avant-garde, and progressive rock is nothing less than mind-boggling. Very much like some of Frank Zappa's more zany works, the music on Kind of Saltz spans numerous genres through quirky and seemingly disjointed compositions, and yet they somehow sound cohesive and memorable. SOT has delighted listeners with their very unique and interesting debut, and fans of forward-thinking music would be doing themselves a major disservice by not giving it a spin.

On Kind of Saltz, SOT's sound is best described as a meeting point between jazz fusion, avant-garde rock, instrumental metal, and even touches of post rock - while the overall tone of the album is rather dark at times, the frenzied melodies and spastic arrangements often reveal a rather quirky atmosphere. In this regard (as well as a few others), SOT's music sounds like an up-to-date, heavier version of The Mothers of Invention. The music is quite complex at times, deceivingly melodic, and captivating throughout the album's entire duration. Part of the reason why Kind of Saltz is such a successful effort is that, stylistically, I can't think of any other act who does quite what SOT does. Their enticing avant-garde take on jazz fusion and metal has never been previously done in this sort of fashion, and I think this is at least partially do to the rather odd instrumentation by rock music standards. Including Lars Andreas Haug's tuba playing is without doubt a rather odd decision, but I think it works perfectly. This under-appreciated instrument adds a dimension to SOT's music that couldn't have been obtained using a standard 'bass-guitar-drums' format, and this strange (yet highly successful) choice of instrumentation is yet another thing that sets Kind of Saltz apart from anything else out there.

After just one listen to Kind of Saltz, it goes without saying that the other two-thirds of SOT also do their jobs exceptionally well. Skjalg Reithaug's guitar work is the centerpoint for many of the compositions here, and his fluid soloing and rock-solid riff delivery is always interesting and well-executed. Anders Hunstad's drumming often veers on the complex and intricate side, and he always plays these intricacies with complete precision - overall, it's tough to label SOT as anything but an extremely tight, well-rehearsed trio.

The instrumentation isn't limited just to tuba, guitar, and drums either, as I also spotted some keyboards, trumpet, and vocals (delivered in a scat-singing sort of way) before Kind of Saltz was over. Overall, this is a varied and immensely entertaining listen that all fans of experimental progressive rock should check out sooner rather than later. I always have a great time when I give Kind of Saltz a listen, and I have a pretty good feeling most other readers will as well. This is an excellent debut from SOT - I'm definitely curious to hear more!

SOT Kind of Saltz

Album · 2011 · Avant-garde Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Kind Of Saltz' - SOT (8/10)

Salt is a useful thing. Historically, it was used as an imperial currency, and today, we use it to season fries. Salt now also has the distinction of being the apparent inspiration between Salt of Tusj, a remarkable new act from Norway. Better known as SOT, this left-of-centre jazz trio's debut album 'Kind Of Saltz' dropped at the end of 2011, and what a way to wrap up the year it is. Although jazz fusion is a fairly well-traversed style of music now, SOT replaces the typical trumpet or saxophone fare with a tuba. Combining that with an already experimental sensibility, 'Kind Of Saltz' is both fun and challenging. It is good to hear such a unique take on jazz.

SOT will undoubtedly draw comparisons between other acts who pursue an avant-jazz format. The apocalyptic quirk of Univers Zero first comes to mind, but SOT is an entity of their own. Thanks in large part to the tuba playing of Lars Andreas Haug, SOT is a sound of jazz fusion, taken from a different angle. Although the tuba is the defining trait of this band's music, each band member brings something equal to the table. Skjalg Reithaug's guitar tone borders on metal at times, and Anders Hunstad is not afraid to caffeinate his jazzy drum patterns with an equal measure of energy and charm that conjures images of Animal from The Muppets. Much of SOT's sound goes down this avant-garde, energetic route, although there are also times where they gear their sound towards something softer. These dynamic changes are often quite drastic; for one, the prog freakout track 'Støtten' is pushed up together with the mellowed out 'End Of Saltz'.

SOT does tend to travel around the board, but 'Kind Of Saltz' has a solid sense of flow and cohesion to it. Reithaug's guitar tone does not change all that much throughout the album, sticking primarily to a pair of clean, or distorted tones. The production is consistent, but dry and lacking resonance, and this is one of the few weaker areas of the album. Although there are usually a couple of recurring ideas floating around in each song, much of the playlength shows the band members playing off each other, and this is the primary strength that SOT boasts. Although some of the songwriting can feel jagged and transitions between ideas rough in patches, the musicians' 20 years-plus experience making music is very evident. Although the instrumental lines aren't technically boggling on their own, the fact that SOT are able to perform so tightly as a group makes 'Kind Of Saltz' work.

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