SAULT - NINE Music Album Reviews

SAULT - NINE Music Album Reviews
The elusive UK group’s third album in just over a year—to be made available online for only 99 days—renders Black trauma in the eerie, sing-song cadences of children’s rhymes.

The nursery rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down” is secretly about the spirits of the dead. The centuries-old children’s tune doubles as a macabre tale of children being walled inside the London Bridge, or buried under its foundation, to ensure that the structure never crumbles. At least that’s the theory advanced by Alice Bertha Gomme, a noted British folklorist and scholar of children’s games. Like the fables of the Brothers Grimm, whose bloody tales were sanitized for bedtime retelling, many nursery rhymes have equally disturbing origins. On NINE, the elusive British group SAULT channel childhood rhymes—not just their repetitive, earwormy melodies but also their ominous undertones—into songs with a deceptively simple air that are laden with grief.

NINE is SAULT’s third album in just a little over a year, and it builds on the penchant for mystery that they established with their first two albums, 5 and 7, both released in 2019 under a cloak of anonymity. The album will be available—whether as a stream, download, or CD/LP—for just 99 days. Where their first albums were rooted in neo-soul and funk, 2020’s Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise) borrowed liberally from Afrobeat and the blues. With NINE, they add new layers—of mystery but also flippant humor—to their sound.

We laugh when things are funny but recently, particularly over the past year and a half, I began buckling over when things were neither humorous nor joyous. Laughter made more sense than sadness. It required more physical exertion, and helped me move when I wanted to hide in a crawl space. It’s that energy of laughing because everything is terrible that beats through the brief opener, “Haha,” an a cappella chant that resembles a playground rhyme set to syncopated handclaps. “How about/Ha ha ha ha/How about/Ha ha ha ha,” runs the refrain, leaving little inkling of its origin story. Are we laughing at a joke or a person? And “how about” what exactly? That man, that dog, them Yankees? The meaning is as cryptic as the band, but they do offer a hint: “How about the love.” Looking around the globe today, that four-letter word is as urgent as it is furtive, and while SAULT are private, the grief they sing of has been projected onto the world stage, stoking a sadness that could make you want to disappear. It’s the type of misery that elicits a desperate ha ha ha ha. How about the love, right?

UK rapper Little Simz is luminescent on “You From London,” sitting in the pocket where bold ambition meets calm disregard for convention. “Ain’t no thinkin’ twice when you’re living life the rebel way, huh/We don’t know L.A./You ain’t knowin’ Shoreditch Overground, ’bout to run away,” she spits over a beat that evokes Corinne Bailey Rae summer aesthetics with a take-no-shit mindset. Simz projects a sunny disposition amid trying external factors: “I know killers in the streets, but I ain’t really involved/We don't wanna cause any grief/But we get triggered when hearin’ the sound of police.” The somber “Alcohol” reflects on the battle to conquer destructive vices and fight against the impermanent bliss of chemical comfort, bringing to mind Kendrick Lamar’s bleak “A.D.H.D.”: “Oh alcohol/Look what I’ve done,” Cleo Sol sings mournfully; “Oh alcohol/It was only supposed to be one.”

“London Gangs” is set to a retro bass-and-drum loop that sounds like it’s playing through faulty speakers. The mood is anxious and hectic, with the energy of commuters moving from one subway to another during the morning rush hour. Clarity comes on “Fear” and “Bitter Streets,” with the latter’s swelling strings and foot-tapping percussion cushioning a meditation on despondency and resignation. Sol movingly channels what happens when the choices from our youth trap us in situations we can’t escape without violence or wrenching loss: “Your energy/Takes away the best of me/I remember when we were young/You made friends with a gun,” she sings, her tone deceptively chipper. In moments like this it’s clear how much NINE is concerned with the ways that relationships and loyalties are formed, group labels are distributed (“RIP postcodes/Revenge is all you know”), and those affected weather the storms.

Heavy weather hangs over NINE—“I can’t really fool with all that rain out there,” chirps an excited American on “You From London”—but on the closing “Light’s in Your Hands,” temperature takes on a more metaphorical aspect, as the measure of frigid, unwelcoming circumstances. During a break in the gospel-inflected song, the sample of a man’s voice breaks in over piano and wordless background harmonies. “When you think about it, I never really had a childhood—I was constantly on edge, constantly on edge,” he muses. “Looking back, I can identify it as anxiety. Because I'd walk into school, not knowing what the temperature is—it’s like, there might have been a falling out in the hood, and now this, you know what I’m saying?” The song’s specifics are hyper-local, but zoom out of London, and these narrators and their lives weave themselves into the fabrics of Black stories across the globe. In SAULT’s music, trauma takes on the repetitive cadence of a children’s rhyme, and to know it is to laugh through it.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
SAULT - NINE Music Album Reviews SAULT - NINE Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on July 08, 2021 Rating: 5


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