SOT – Kind of Saltz

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.

Tracklist:

1. Schlatan (5:14)
2. Tusjpen (5:53)
3. Bartof (1:38)
4. Follower (6:30)
5. Saltpetersyre (6:01)
6. Den Avsagde (1:52)
7. Støtten (4:22)
8. End Of Saltz (2:44)
9. Oftebrua (3:44)
10. Tzar Saltan (8:21)

Line-up:

* Skjalg Reithaug – guitars
* Anders Hunstad – drums
* Lars Andreas Haug – tuba

Links:

http://www.saltoftusj.com
https://www.facebook.com/saltoftusj

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