Untitled (Black Is) is the third studio album by the British R&B musical group Sault, released on 19 June 2020 through the independent record label Forever Living Legends. The album has been met with positive critical reception.Wikipedia
Boom the first track hits! then I got in tune with my inner blackness which is weird cause Im 43 and a chubby white dude from CA.
Wow, an album from 2020. Must be one of the most recent albums on the list. One of the things I love about this project is that I listen to things I normally wouldn't. Some of those things turn out terribly as expected, but others, like this one, are really pleasant surprises. This album just exudes a warm feeling that envelopes the listener. Really nice. 4 stars.
Here's the thing: I stopped listening at the track "Black". And this track is everything I dislike about the album so far and I couldn't listen further because of how uninteresting and unappealing this experience was. I appreciate every artist who doesn't just make music for the masses and just for the grooves, but with greater meaning and passion for an important theme, on this album its black identity, black empowerment, black pride etc. But if you want to spark some thoughts or have a listener feel something, you need to show some emotion - be angry, be sad, be happy, be eccentric or powerful or raw. I didn't hear anything of this at all on this album. Just one track after another being as unappealing and repetitive as can be with bland messages and no clear statement at all. What is the point being made on this album? "Black." "I'm black." "We all know black is beautiful, you know? Well now you do." What are these lyrics? The instrumentation on this thing also is as minimal as can be. Either there's just one instrument looping around some chords or it's just a beat that every time goes on way longer than it needs to be. There are some beats on here that I liked, but the repetition and length of it took the patience off me every single track. In the last two years I digged deeply in the Hip Hop culture and found some great artists which by now count as some of my most favourite artists ever, some of theme are often making music on or around this topic as well like Kendrick Lamar on good kid, maad city or especially on To Pimp a Butterfly. I watched the fantastic Beyoncé live concert from a couple of years ago and saw some great power and determination. It wasn't exactly my type of music but I loved how full of expression one can be when you are passionate about something. I'm sure SAULT didn't do it for nothing and I am a bit curious if the other records pull it off better because I heard it on some other reviews, but this record just doesn't do it for me and renders a honorable concept extremely bland and boring. And that's a shame.
Genre bending all in the service of this intense introspection. Don't Shoot Gun Sound then turns that into an immediate regrounding in the physical. This is cool to listen to as an art piece, but I don't know that I would come back to it. Clearly its a masterpiece.
NPR ranked "Untitled (Black Is)" as it's #1 album of 2020, and while it's not my #1, SAULT certainly made an album of the moment that captured the zeitgeist and feels timely and cathartic. There is a lot of variety on the album, yet it still feels cohesive. It is pleading and desperate at times, and hopeful and uplifting at others.
When I first saw it, I was really looking forward to listen to it. I expected and emotional album with deep messages. Unfortunately it did not catch me as I expected. Some tracks were good but all in all its too long in my opinion.
I gotta be honest, I’m pretty tired of the incessant racial propaganda in America in 2022. Our culture worships black people. It doesn't take a genius to notice that blackness is ONLY praised, and whiteness, we're told, either doesn't exist, or is inherently evil. Every media outlet portrays blacks as empowered and every movie/show portrays whites as dumb, weak or evil. Every corporation glorifies blackness. BLM protestors unironically think they’re fighting the system when every news source and company and TV show and advertisement and CEO “coincidentally” say the exact same things they do. This racial tension only benefits the ruling class, and distracts from real issues of economic inequality or climate change. All over the internet it’s normal to hate white people for their color. Hell, even the week I’m writing this, a black man who had talked about killing white people online went and shot up the NYC subway. 15 years ago few people even THOUGHT about race, and we were on track to a world where race didn’t affect how you were seen. But today, everyone is rabidly fixated on race, and people’s entire personalities are centered on the color of their skin or their sexuality. People aren't proud of their accomplishments, no, somehow they are proud of their skin color. Years ago MLK promoted peace and harmony, but today, blacks are told to be perpetually angry and bitter. It reminds me of the constant war machine in Orwell’s 1984; if the people are consistently angry, their anger can be harnessed. Today there is a “forever war”, a constant stream of manufactured outrage. SJWs scour the internet to find ANY tiny example of oppression, usually in the form of 10 year-old tweets, so that their sad worldview remains intact. But the demand for racism is higher than the supply, so isolated events are blown out of proportion and used to justify dismantling everything about society. There is no aspect of life that isn’t viewed through the distorted lens of oppression. Our culture’s fatal obsession with identity has caused rifts that will take a century to heal. Identity politics only divides us all; it’s thinly veiled tribalism. Identity politics has destroyed honest political discourse among groups: every person is viewed mainly as a member of a group and not an individual, and it’s not the truth of what you say that matters, but whether you belong to the right group. Anyway, I didn't vibe with this album. “Black lives matter” is completely true as a STATEMENT, obviously, but as a MOVEMENT, it is destructive and counterproductive. Identity politics is a complete disaster. A post-racial world was within our grasp, but instead we are more divided today than we have been in decades, and it makes me sad. The music was 3/5. -1 point for the fact that a third of the tracks are just cringey racial affirmation ASMR. 2/5
I appreciate the concept of this album but only liked one song well enough for a relisten
How does this have so many 5 stars? I don't find this groundbreaking or even really interesting. If you like the same repetitive beat, repetitive lyrics through an entire song then this is for you.
Does the fact that the band doesn't do press etc make the music more interesting or does it just help it get past hipsters? It's fairly minimal album musically and has a mix of detached vocals. It's desperate for you to know that it's MAKING A COMMENT. This is an IMPORTANT ALBUM. Fair enough for trying, but the music lacks soul. From the themes that it addresses, I'm sure there's meant to be emotional involvement but it feels more like a cynical grab to hang on to BLM and hope no one notices. There are many other albums out there that do it better than this. Best Tracks: Wildfires; Bow; Monsters
In this day and age, "Sault eschew interaction with the media, they have never played a live show, given an interview or released a music video in support of their music and features an array of unnamed collaborators," is an astonishing sentence. Been on my list of things to get around to listening to for ages
Impressive showcase of creativity and musicianship fueled by strong and important beliefs. Efforts like these give a reason for publishing a new version of '1001' each year. A bit too few strong, memorable tracks to hit a 5/5 rating.
Stylish, deep, funky, rootsy, spiritual, angry, hopeful…proud. Politically and socially charged for sure, but for once I didn’t feel bludgeoned over the head by the message of an album of this type and so ended up enjoying it a lot.
This is a toughie. The production is great, the message is essential, but the lyricism and vocals seem designed to appeal to the blandest Guardian music pages Radio 2 I buy one album a year and it's usually by Ed Sheeran type bore. Are the lyrics kept simple and unchallenging so that they don't alienate these people? Are the vocals so MOR to ensure more people get down to the message eventually? Everything about this album should appeal to me, but a lot of it seems to be kept so tame when right now it feels like it should be time for action, rather than a strongly worded letter. The problem with What's Going On by Marvin Gaye is it made a revolutionary message sound so pleasant nobody went away remembering the important bit. This album seems to fall into the same trap. Sod it though, I'm the worst sort of white, liberal bore myself. Maybe it's not aimed at those who want parity between people of colour killed unlawfully by the police and police killed (ideally both should be zero, and the police should have more stringent firing policies for racists, homophobes and misogynists). It's not aimed at people who would happily pay good money to watch everybody involved in GB News killed slowly in a pay per view. They probably know much better than me - I couldn't have made this album. Ah well. It's a good album with a big problem for my ears.
“Dancefloor positivity idealized and politicized, most militantly on this third album, which surfaced just in time for a BLM moment we're free to pray lasts approximately forever.”
Didn't realise the list went up to 2020. Not for me.
I very much doubt that I'm the target audience for this album. Initially I enjoyed the beats and there's some really nice progressions in there. What I disliked is the politicking, sure it's contemporary, but damn does it pull its punches. Listening back to Public Enemy, NWA, RATM - they went for the jugular, they meant it with a passion. This album had the potential, but somehow got watered-down with lightweight easy-to-swallow commercial chants for an ASMR generation.
The message is important and good. But it's too obvious, too much asmr whispering and not enough music. To connect both was already shown to be possible in the 90s...
Some nice beats but mostly shite
I already fell in love with this album.
The last three albums from Steely Dan, Janis Joplin and The Who were classics that pegged my rating needle at 5, so I can’t help but worry about following those up with something I have had no concept of from 2020. Within the first minute all that was swept away. This is an incredible work that stuns me with its gravitas and unflinching examination of the racial trauma of our time in a moving, emotional piece of art. I was absolutely entranced by this album. It directly expresses outrage, grief, anger and fear imbued with such beauty exuding pride and affirmation that it lifts and inspires. I marvel at the talent that was able to pull off this seemingly impossible feat. This album speaks urgently to our time. If only everyone could listen...
I loved this. Hopeful, uplifting, great music. Really great.
This album from 2020 was unexpected, being so recent. It was unfamiliar and it was stunningly beautiful.
This album took me on so many journeys, both with its beautiful, varied music and its beautiful, varied messages. It is so very much about today, and yet a very old story. I was moved, I was taught, I was heartbroken, I was inspired, I was hopeful.
A 2020 album... Wow. Super enjoyable, a quieter new funk style that I really click with. Put it on next time you have a backyard BBQ party, people will love it.
This album has a sound and a swagger that is rare and special. "Monsters" in particular is an amazing song.
Amazing album! To the point and effective
An artful mixture of an outpouring of urgent grief and emotion, interspersed with snippets of the intimate daily lives of Black people and people from Black origins. I haven't ever taken a deep dive into SAULT's music before but I love the variety of styles and sounds and samples. I love that they hardly interact with the media and fascinated that they never do live shows. I'd love to meet them and talk to them about their processes and choices, so interesting. I particularly love more vintage R&B with the woman vocals/hook like Hard Life but also love their original take on that. It's like a battle march/war cry mixed with a house track! All of the voices are mesmerising I especially love the appearance of Michael Kiwanuka (I'm a big fan) on this album. It's a real snapshot of an intense and shocking point in time in June 2020.
Superb album. All Sault albums are worth having!
Listened to Air recently which I loved for the Stepney/Reich vibes in equal measure. That's nothing like this, I've only heard bits before, enough to know that Air was a departure, and that they released music faster than I could keep up. This is pretty wonderful. Never stays the same, never dips in quality. Fully justified inclusion, hopefully will withstand the brutal culls that more modern albums suffer with each new edition.
Power and resistance through understated funky grooves. Even spoken word nonsense can't bring down the vibe on this one. Best track: Wildfires
Rating: 9/10 Best songs: Stop dem, Hard life, Don’t shoot guns down, Wildfires, Sorry ain’t enough, Bow, Black, Eternal life
What a great album, great sounds, great lyrics great message. Loved it
A tricksy album to discuss, in that it took me several days to write this. Exceptionally well-made, the cover itself tells us that discussed within are serious, emotive issues. Such an undertaking behoves that both the album and the listener adopt a suitably mature attitude, as frivolity easily could turn to offence. Largely, the album succeeds so. Yes, I proffer minor caveats, but not enough to upset anyone, I hope. The genesis of SAULT and this album are rather commentable on their own. SAULT are a black music collection, apparently based in Britain, who have never given a definitive list of band members, let alone performed live or released a video. Emerging in 2019 with the album 5, they would also publish the album 7 in the same year, then this album and Untitled (Rise) the next year. Untitled (Black Is) was released in June 2020, a month after the death of George Floyd at the knee of a police officer. George Floyd's death would sparks protests across not only America, but much of the world, and this album is a declared revolt against systematic racism, of which police brutality is just one symptom. As I said, this is an album to take seriously. The parenthesised title serves as the leitmotif of the album, especially during the spoken word sections, with lists declaring what black is. And here's a caveat: I recognise the intended positivity of these parts, but that didn't prevent me finding them a touch platitudinous. Obvious messages will seem obvious: me saying democracy is a good thing is clearly right, but hardly paradigm-shifting, despite the prevalence of dictatorships in our time. Another caveat: invoking God and religion never stirs me all righteous in protest works. Is religion that effective a mechanism of social improvement? Couldn't God just solve all this right now? Don't millions think God is on the side of that racist traitor Tr*mp? Appealing to Christianity didn't really work on What's Going On, doesn't really work here. (And yes, I believe I have failed in my ambition to avoid upsetting anyone). I think that's the end to the caveats. The most conspicuous aspect of this album is its production: it's dauntingly good, warm yet crisp, like a good roast potato. The second most conspicuous aspect is its kaleidoscopic eclecticism. Although this site classifies the album as soul and funk, the album respectfully passes through gospel, doo-wop, reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and even African polyrhythms. Thankfully, the album avoids the senselessness that occasionally arises when artists try so many genres so rapidly. But the album stands on the resonance of its message. In that regard, they've shown their workings (although when they sing the line "From Egypt to Libya", they forget that the two countries border one another, so it's not really continent-encompassing). It's worthwhile, indeed it's slightly humbling, to listen to the album whilst reading the lyrics. For all the album's focus on racial justice and equality, it's also a profoundly feminine album. With some exception, the voices of this album are exclusively female, and the album bombards with love, reassurance and optimism. For all its justified outrage, this is an album that wants to hug the world, and pleads with the world to justify its hug. An album with a wonderful heart, and one a damn sight nobler than Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet going all anti-Semitic, methinks.
Wow. Powerful messaging delivered in a great package.
As a band, they blew my mind. Absolutely love this album. 5*s
amazing, beautiful. vocals are on point and the whole album is just gorgeous. the messaging moved me as well.
i can’t believe i’ve never heard of this group before. they’re on my list now, this album was excellent.
Some really great tracks here. I enjoyed this album and that feels pretty unusual coming from a modern band Id never heard of
Incredible production, heart wrenching topics tackled in a beautiful way and the interludes take nothing away from the experience, rather enhance it greatly.
super cool album like a non-stop wave on unique styles all coming together in really neat ways definitely one of the best alternative albums I’ve heard 10/10
What a power house. Perfect album.
Listening to this was filling a gap between Little Simz and Michael Kiwanuka, and I loved it. I also imagine that this music is something Gambino listens to, which inherently elevates it.
Really liked this. Smart, angry, lush and full of unexpected musical surprises. I can see why the critics rave about these guys.
Undeniable vibes. Hadn't heard this before, and I'm not sure how.
SAULT have quickly become one of the most exciting bands around to me. This one has some of their best tracks too. Straight fire.
I loved this, I don’t know how I’ve never heard of this
October 27, 2021 This broadened my horizons and was an enjoyable listen!
Never heard of this band before but they're pretty cool. Starts off a lot stronger than it ends, and it's quite a mixed bag at points, but overall really enjoyed it.
I like all of their stuff but slightly preferred the other one released in this year.
My second time this week getting an album from the recent five years thinking meh, modern music doesn't grip me and for the second time I'm floored. I can see why SAULT is classified as R&B/Soul but there is so much more to this album that doesn't fit into those genres. There's some Jazz, 80s Pop, New Wave elements. It's a very poetic, easy listener of an album. 4.5/5.
Figo, mi piace. Black power!
An interesting one
At first listen this album has a great groove but it was repetitive. As I thought about it, I realize the repetition was to drill the very important messages about being black into our brains. Powerful.
Very good heard this when released and I preferred untitled (rise) - but after listening to this again I thought this one is way better
Very good, and a very distinctive sound. Puts me in mind of Masters at Work output. In terms of production and polish maybe a little inconsistent - but that’s a very minor quibble.
SAULT are making some great records. Love the retro feel they manage to have while still sounding modern. Possibly too long, but putting out three albums in a year would have been ridiculous does make it feel a little more like a mixtape than an album to my ears though. I generally prefer the more 'up' first half to the second, but it's all good.
Väldigt bra! Gillar hur det hålls själfullt trots det faktum att de flesta beats är väldigt simpla.
Funk-soul suave. Me ha gustado. Un 4.
I liked this album at first, then it got pretty experimental, then it got good again. Not music meant for me but it’s still really good and the Spotify radio that came on after it was great and I’m still listening to it
A good discovery.I loved the voices and the tone. Although after the 7th song it gets a little repetitive, it is a good album.
very 2020 but the subdued vibe mixed with the vocals hits
Pretty cool album with some influences that are hard to define, but still with a clear purpose. It's hard to establish that it will some kind of classic in the future, but for sure it will influence the next classics.
Probably the best of all the "completely new to me" suggestions from this app. Definitely will revist.
Terrific music, such a great downtempo feel, sinister and dark
Really liked this. Feels like Common for some reason
Loose, hypnotic, and rich with atmosphere. Goes down smooth. The group's approach of sidestepping media interaction and live performances is intriguing.
Yes, Black certainly Is. Well done everybody.
Ok. I like this a lot....Love the sparseness of the production...I know nothing about the band/collective but will investigate more...as 50yo white male i realize that I may not be the average target/consumer of this. (am I racist to say that?) Anyway it has class and its amalgam of modern funk/soul/jazz is highly appealing. Great stuff.
Really enjoyed this! I knew a bit about SAULT but was pleased to read more, a very unusual album but loved a lot of this
Unique. Creative. Art. I don't know that I love the music, but I love that it's different.
Funk-soul suave. Me ha gustado. Un 4.
Not the kind of thing that I usually listen to, but I really enjoyed this album.
un album rafraichissant, une belle balance de bon grooves et d,expérimentation. Blues, electro, pop, etc. Tout y est mais bien balancé et ca s'écoute vraiment super bien 4
Première fois que j’entends parler de ce collectif. La groove de Stop Dem est excellente et sa position après la douceur de l’ouverture par Out the lies est parfaite. Beaucoup de sonorités intéressantes dans cette production. Belle surprise. Pièces préférées: Stop Dem, Monsters, Black
Super intéressant. Le propos cherche à améliorer l’estime de soi des personnes de couleurs. Je trouve ça très bien, mais puisqu’il ne s’adresse qu’indirectement à moi, ça devient lourd à mi-chemin de l’album. Le groove, le son, les effets, ... tout ça est super le fun et rafraichissant.
it's a 4 all day. Found it over lockdown and it manages to be overtly political but pretty chilled at the same time
SAULT is a band that I got into back in 2020 when they released their two big albums: Untitled(Black Is) which was released on Juneteenth and a few months later Untitled(Rise). The group is an enigma. Apart from the the Producer Inflo, most of the musicians on their albums are anonymous. They've never done interviews or released any videos. Their album Nine only came out for 99 days on Bandcamp and streaming services making it a "true" limited edition. The music is great and explores many style throughout their releases. This album and Rise is full of songs about positivity, struggle and protest. The production and musicianship and strong throughout and the theme of the album stays consistent from start to finish.
la grosse conne qui écouté le mauvais album (il était super cependant)
J'ai dû l'écouter 3 fois pour être sûr, mais je pense pas que ça vaille un 5. Très bon nonobstant
This was very good. Seems like it came out in response to the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 and the themes clearly reflect that. I had never heard of this album or this group before, but I will be checking out their other music for sure.
I think this is very, very good, but not an all-time classic, an honor many critics bestowed on on it upon release. A great combination of styles - in a way that defies categorization. There are elements of funk, soul. afro-beat and R&B, all melding in an impressive manner. As a protest album it swings for the fences in terms of scope. It may be the best mainstream all in protest album since What's Going On. Nice company to keep.
A long one to kick things off! First time listening to 90% of this album, Wildfires I think is the only familiar song to me. The punchy darker songs of "Hard Life" "Why we cry why we die" and "Sorry Aint Enough" I also liked as an honest exploration of the black experience at the moment. Particularly enjoyed the afrobeat of "Bow" with Michael Kiwanuka as a mid album change of pace. Miracles I think was my highlight of the album, really enjoyed the "choral" vocals and resilience portrayed in the lyrics. But there are a lot of gems in this one. Great album to start with. "Pray up stay up" was also a warmer end to the album, appreciated.
Liked it but didn’t listen all the way through
A brilliantly crafted statement album by this anonymous collective, which sounds completely fresh and bops along with an infectious energy.
Subdued, yet celebratory. Love the influences on this thing, and the production is crisp and nice. Think it gets a smidgen navel-gazey at times, but otherwise it's solid. Favorite tracks: "Bow", "Stop Dem", "Miracles"
The most excellent and righteous mixtape.
Not a fan of R&B but this album was one of the few I could listen to without being annoyed or bored (lots of variety!). I could focus on the lyrics too and overall was a nice experience.