A groovy bass riff, some bongos, and tambourine pierce the air. Your body starts to move without you telling it to. Soon, scorching hot vocals on the edge of distortion come in. Before you know it, a stank face has come over you and you can’t help yourself from getting lost in the ever-evolving soundscape. Protest lyrics start to ignite a fire in your soul. This is the music of SAULT.
An Unknown Collaboration
Very little is known about this British-based RnB-slash-disco-slash-EDM outfit. Despite reaching 1.6 million monthly listeners on Spotify in the three years they’ve been releasing music, the group has never played a live show, never released a music video, and never given an interview. Their Instagram account, @saultglobal, follows no one and posts clips of their new releases nearly exclusively. It is known that the helmsman for this project is the music producer Inflo, and that SAULT acts as a sort of artist collective with an ever-changing roster of unnamed musicians contributing to recording. Personally, I think the anonymity of SAULT works really well in tandem with their protest music. Preventing any sort of personality from forming around the group makes the music stand on its own, and makes its messaging more universally applicable.
SAULT’s songs often take the form of protest music, focusing on issues plaguing Black living.
“Foot on Necks” take on police brutality
You don’t feel, what we feel, and it’s evident
That you shoot to kill, ’cause you know, you’ll get away with it
Praise your soul, all night, how does your wife even sleep with this burden, on her mind, knowing you’ll never make it to heavenFoot on Necks
While “Bitter Streets” addresses bittersweet nostalgia that comes from growing up in the inner city, as well as gang culture.
Takes away the best of me
I remember when we were young
You made friends with a gun
You didn’t leave
Fell in love with the streets
September, you were out
Now we’re all the way in FеbruaryBitter Streets
And “Living in America” discusses America’s obsession with guns.
Living in America
Every day is an on-going massacre
Another one gets shot down in the streets
But they say it’s the land of the free – no!
Everyone has a gun, counting bullets like their Haribos
So be careful how you roll
Now the playground is the danger zoneLiving in America
And their most popular song, with 35 million listens on Spotify, “Wildfires” returns us back to police brutality.
Thief in the night
Tell the truth
You should be ashamed
The bloodshed on your hands
Take off your badge
We all know it was murder
“Wildfires” also acts as anthemic resistance music. The song closes with this stanza:
But we will never show fear
Even in my eyes
I will always rise
I ain’t never been scared
Even through my tears
I will always care
Their music skirts a solid genre-fication, but there are trends that are consistent across their sound. A rock-solid drum-and-bass rhythm section grounding the entire mix. Angelic vocals pushing into distortion most often sung by Cleo Sol. Psychedelic-influenced signal processing incorporating delay, distortion, wah-wahs, and reverb spread across the different parts. Expansive string sections. The occasional synth. Immaculately phrased guitar melodies. African-influenced rhythms and vocal choruses. Every so often the group abandons any melody or harmony, and instead has a percussion groove standing on its own, like the drum line in the middle of “Strong”. It is this blend of influences and styles that attracted and have held on to my attention. SAULT’s sonic fingerprint is very unique, and I think it will continue to bring the group great success in the future.
I am honestly at a loss for words when it comes to summarizing SAULT. All I can say is: take an hour out of your day and go listen to one of their albums. Really LISTEN to it. Try and hear all the different parts. Listen to the words. Try and see how everything coalesces together into one coherent and unique sound. My personal favorite is probably Untitled (Rise), and I think that’s a great place to start adding a little SAULT to your life.