Seven tracks whose titles are all anagrams of the word “bark”. The press release admonishes us with the definition “sound-oriented improvisation”, which might emerge as a gently mystifying explanation for those – like yours truly – who think that EVERYTHING is sound. But the magnitude of the mass of heavy wood and thick strings involved is enough to tell you that we’re dealing with music with a preponderance of fundamentally rich percussive traits and sneering anti-melodies (mostly by the basses, curiously, as the guitar is employed more as a machine to tamper with), often verging on clattering of the aurally rewarding variety. Face it: there are lots of ensembles nowadays that explore this area, the place where rubbing the instrument’s body and letting objects bounce on a snare’s skin (just mentioning a couple of the thousands of events occurring throughout, huh?) run parallel to actual pitches, weak-to-piercing upper partials and intimidating droning, usually in some type of contrapuntal configuration. Sult exist since 2008, though, and it shows: their interplay – in spite of the timbral jaggedness – is solid, even precise, musical in the right spots and also in the “wrong” ones. The quartet is positively willing to let room for a listener to break through the secret corners of what gets conceived on the spot, which is basically the raison d’être behind the enjoyableness of the whole.
- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
At times maddening with multiple intensities of chaotic scraping and beating, others of airy whimsy, “Bark” by the international improvisation quartet Sult is an engaging listen of extended techniques on traditional instruments.
Sult is Tony Dryer and Guro Skumsnes Moe on contrabass, Jacob Felix Heule plays percussion and Havard Skaset performs acoustic guitar.
The pieces here are acoustic performances informed by noise, electro-acoustic improv and drone. The results are highly original however, due to the eclectic decisions made by the members. There are many different techniques and strategies employed by each member on their respected instruments. At times the contrabasses are played percussively on the body while cymbals are bowed. This mixture of technique is pervasive throughout the performances and is always wonderfully applied.
There is a unique form of communication among the players of which they have been developing since 2008. Dryer and Heule live in San Francisco and Skaset and Moe are from Norway, yet their ability to predict and lead one another suggests they live in the same house. It is impressive that they are able to maintain and build this relationship despite their physical distance from each other.
Listening to “Bark” is not as challenging in the tonal pallet as the referenced influence of noise and electro-acoustic as all the sounds provided are acoustic and stay within a comfortable volume in relationship to the group. Each sound, be it loud or quiet is treated with such delicacy and precision that multiple listens reveal ever expanding textures and gestures. This is not to say that the music is not richly complex with challenging sounds and compositional tactics, simply that within the support complexity the group manages and maintains and welcome listening experience.
- John Collins McCormick, foxydigitalis.com
Certes ce Bark là – à qui il manque le point d’exclamation – n’est qu’un titre. Celui d’un disque de… Sult, association peu commune de deux contrebassistes (Tony Dryer etGuro Skumsnes Moe), d’un guitariste (Havard Skaset) et d’un percussionniste (Jakob Felix Heule) – Dryer et Heule, entendus déjà en Basshaters. En conséquence : un précis de gravitude dont nœuds, tensions, râles et décharges, font le gros du discours. Sept onomatopées en tout qui, persuasives presque toutes, forment un vocabulaire signifiant.
- Guillaume Belhomme, Le Son du Grisli