The enigmatic UK music collective known as Sault has released some of the most acclaimed albums in recent memory. Bandcamp picked UNTITLED (Black Is) and UNTITLED (Rise) as two of 2020’s most essential releases while 2021’s Nine landed on numerous year-end lists, including Consequence and NME.
But Sault’s most recent release, Air, finds them eschewing the mix of soul, funk, R&B, and hip hop that characterized their previous albums for something far more orchestral. The album’s seven pieces, which range in length from four minutes to over twelve minutes, rely almost exclusively on powerful choral vocals, elaborate string and horn arrangements, and the occasional synth flourish.
“Time is Precious” is a perfect example of this. It might confound those expecting more of the same, but these grandiose arrangements make for a highly theatrical experience. (Although the soulful vocals at the song’s end do hearken back to Sault’s “traditional” sound.)
Indeed, the whole of Air feels like a sweeping score for the most elaborate theatrical production you’ll probably never see. In other words, yet another intriguing release by one of the world’s most acclaimed musical groups.