Sault – Untitled (Black Is) & Untitled (Rise)
What we have here is the artist of the year. And two of the best albums of the year. If I was a music writer professionally and wrote for a rag, I would have put these albums at number one.
This is the hardest artist to inform you about. In theory the adage, ‘the music speaks for itself’ works most assuredly with this release. Nobody knows who is in the band. Debuting in 2019 and climbing up the UK charts this became the mysterious darling of critics and fans.
This year they have made the most explosive and beautiful records in the heat of the racial injustice protests. If my top ten theme is peace and chaos,
Sault brings musical peace in the midst of radical lyrics trying to confront and answer the chaos of 2020.
In respect to the two records, I lean toward ‘Black Is’ because much like other choices in my top ten it came out in the heart of unrest, actually on Juneteenth itself. It spoke to all of what we were seeing or protesting in boldly. I love this quote from Pitchfork’s review by Eric Torres on the music we hear on this album;
(Black Is) channels that anger into something weightless and psychedelic, using a stream-of-consciousness approach that blends together earnest spoken word, bass-heavy ’70s funk, Afrobeat grooves, and sweetly delivered vocals.
Pitchfork Review of (Black Is)
Pitchfork Review of (Rise)
Sault has the power to please about any listener. Dance, whispers of Sade, African chant, lofi, spoken word. With confidence and dignity black is the message. And as it should be to me and you, it is beautiful.
We all know black is beautiful
You know, well now you do
Black is excellent too
In me, in you
Black is shiny and new
Black is older than earth
All at the same damn time
Black is sweet
Black is ours
Black is love
Black is God
God is us – Lyrics from Black Is
If I had to separate the feel of the two albums, I would say Black Is is a plea to the soul and the music is so beautiful that you are enraptured. Rise strives to be more hopeful. Some of it more layered and dreamy than anything on Black Is.
This artist and its’ power is a hard one for me to rank. As I said, it has the chops to be considered the best album(s) of the year. They are far superior to anything the Grammy’s nominated for album of the year. On any given day this could be number one, but today it sits at number six.