Salt Pig - The Chalk Circle

12 Sep 2022 - Thorsten

Post-Rock, Experimental, Free Jazz | Utility Tapes | Release date: 16 Sep 2022 | Favorite song: Snow Bones

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Over the last few years, I was surprised at many people not seeing the importance of Tortoise for the development of post-rock. The candor and plain openness towards vast influences from Jazz, to Fusion, from Prog-Rock and Blues. John McEntire and his fellows opened many doors, with many bands following them through – like Salt Pig from Sheffield. Their new release shows that – and so much more.

Post-Rock has always been best, when the bands do not simply stick to one recipe but include other tastes, use different ingredients and then play around with their cooking methods. Salt Pig shows that clearly on The Chalk Circle which is published as part of Utility Tapes ongoing series of atmospherically dense tapes, with some amazing artists like Nadja’s Aidan Baker for example, who contributed his recording Soil to the series two years ago. Salt Pig might have heard that release as their sound shows some possible influences of Baker’s loftier drones, not the harsher stuff. Nevertheless there is also some Sigur Rós, Pan AM, Lymbyc Systym and, undeniably, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whose “almost anything goes”-attitude has been heard quite often by the quartet’s members.

The brittle drumming for example on the opener ”Snow Bones” is very close to being disharmonious, but the synths and steady bass keep the track more than just interesting. Its eleven minutes pass so quickly, that one doesn’t even notice that the whole track is somewhat more of cut-up-and-paste collage than a real track following a premeditated and preconceived structure formally agreed on by the whole band. Free Jazz? Maybe, but it is played by five people (Salt Pig plus frequent contributor and producer Adam Zejma), who surely are not keen on producing dissonance as a basic principle to their music. Their way of making music is free jazzy but we are not talking about a John Zorn-esque thing or anything influenced by the Free Jazz-meets-Black-Metal-avantgarde like Ashenspire or Imperial Triumphant. Salt Pig rather shift a bit to the left or right and shatter their own songs with soft gloves, maybe they also like some Bohren or some Mount Fuji and their Doomjazz sounds? Could be.

They sometimes also use some church-like hall on the keys by Zebedee Budworth or the saxophone by Tom McCormick, so that the sound structures become even bigger, like on ”Asleep in Tbilisi” and then strew in some nice pearly cross-shots from left to right which are so nicely woven on a bling-bling string that it multiplies light like a fine piece of jewelry. Drummer Joe Doldon shows some mighty nice drumming on tracks like the aforementioned opener or the final ”Watersmeet” which starts out like the golden sunset on the forlorn industrial areas of Sheffield when the air is flirring around the old buildings of long-gone industrial might and glory. The song itself bathes everything in a glow that they might not deserve in the present but which surely does their past justice; nonetheless, please do not consider Salt Pig a band of nostalgic copycats, because they definitely are not. Their tracks have a somewhat laid back vibe, which – in all that beauty – is not too frequent in post-rock: Surely a nice addition to the genre!

So, whether you are a fan of well-designed series or just like a positive-mental-attitude in your music; if you gladly take some beautiful melodies to go along your shifting drumming or simply want a new, open-minded post-rock band to accompany your path: Salt Pig might be just the thing for you. I surely spent a few very nice evenings listening to their music over my headphones while contemplating whence it came from, where its roots were. All the while I found many comparisons and influences and – in this case – that was a very nice ride in the company of a band that knows what they are doing and who has also heard their fair share of good post-rock. Like Tortoise, I guess.