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Sault - Untitled (Rise) - 2LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €49.95

Untitled (Rise) follows a structural course with great production value and attention to detail. Shiny strings undergird a mission statement that doesn’t sacrifice the bite of Black Is but situates itself more firmly in hope. Rise devotes most of its time to dance-driven grooves that flow freely between disco, carnival-esque drum breaks, and polyrhythmic Afrobeat, embracing the motivating power of finding joy in the face of pain. This joy is not escapist; it’s fuel for the ultimate goal of liberation. The uplifting drum break of “Strong,” coupled with the twinkling electric piano of “Fearless,” complement rather than minimize the clarion call to keep fighting for justice. “Street Fighter” presents the directive more bluntly (“We gon’ fight it whether you like it/Keep playing the music loud”), openly challenging the violent history of backlash against Black music. On Rise, hope is often imagined via religious imagery. With its angelic chorus, album standout “Free” weighs the shortcomings of a close relationship against the love of God, while the bright optimism of “Son Shine” uplifts the divine as a protective force.

Rise’s “You Know It Ain’t” expands the spoken-word interludes of Black Is into a full song. While these moments can feel heavy-handed at other times, here the humor is welcome and specific: “I see you over by the water cooler on your break talking ’bout, ‘Tanisha, your mental health is super important to me’/But you know it ain’t!” Both albums’ energy shifts considerably towards the end, but where Black Is aims for comfort, Rise spills over with grief, fear, and uncertainty. The melancholy chords and frank lyrics of “Scary Times” offer the clearest distillation of this tension, and the heart-wrenching instrumental “The Black & Gold” sounds like the sun setting on a life. Their heaviness feels like an acknowledgment of the loss that shadows Black people’s desire for better, a subtle reminder to say their names and never forget them. Like the bittersweet optimism of Nina Simone’s song for the children, SAULT’s work embraces dualities—light and dark, happy and sad, life and death—transforming them from opposing forces into sources of strength.

In an op-ed for NPR this year, jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard lamented the neutralization of Marvin Gaye’s soulful rebuke of Black death, “What’s Going On.” “It hit me then just how many people listen to the groove and the melody of this song, without really hearing the words,” Blanchard said. “And that made me realize that many well-meaning people have heard only the melody of our plight, without knowing what the song means for us.” SAULT’s albums reinvigorate the musical language of Black protest with a message no less urgent—and a delivery no less commanding—than it was half a century ago. Their whole-hearted commitment to making sound inextricable from meaning reflects the demands of a moment when abolition is gaining more traction with young activists than reform. The fight for Black lives deserves art that mirrors the depth of the crisis and the spirit of the movement. SAULT’s work rises superbly to the task.

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