Words: James Frostick
Band image: Glen Schenau
Brisbane avant-punk outsiders Soot have released a brand-new 7″ EP containing five tracks of its signature junkyard noise. Crafted in part as an homage to an unorthodox and enigmatic musical icon, Silt sees Soot leaning into their most left-field ideas, utilising everything at their disposal to add further depth to their discordant din.
Proponents of visceral ruckus Soot have returned with a new noise – a cacophonous assemblage crammed into an EP titled Silt. It’s arresting in its immediacy – dilapidated punk with the right amount of crumble. Soot members Riley Jones, James Harrison, Helena Foley and Tia Wolf (the line-up as of the recording of this EP) have elected to release the EP digitally in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, something to unsettle us as we settle into our new and monotonous quarantined existence. Riley and James are members of The Goon Sax, but if you’ve found Soot solely through that connection you’re likely to experience something markedly different from TGS’s pristine guitar-pop. Here we have something far grittier and knottier – way less jangle, far more tangle. It’s all clang, crank and clatter loosely controlled and harnessed into a semblance of structure. If Soot’s music was a building it would be one designed on the fly with renovations and additions tacked that clearly violate construction code. It would condemned, too, but you’d be damn sure people would sneak in to marvel at the builder’s warped vision. Soot’s music is fairly abstruse – the lyrics are littered with obscured parables and double meaning, presented in low-fidelity which serves to further distort the message and encourage a concerted listening effort.
As for Silt, the ‘liner notes’ on the group’s Bandcamp page describe it as an homage to Scott Walker’s 1995 record Tilt – a remarkable minimalist epic that sits in a different aesthetic segment to Soot’s racket. If there’s thematic similarities embedded in the lyrics, it might take a few more listens to unearth. That being said, similarities can be drawn between both artist’s flair for experimentation and disregard for the expected. The EP kicks off with ‘What’s T’ Come’ – a spoken-word piece accompanied by unsettling trumpet honks and the odd drum pound. This is Soot at its quietest – from here we are treated to the ripping guitar and hoarse shriek (plus slurred harmonies) of ‘Meshes’, the slow creep and sudden furore of ‘Spectre Song’, and finally the haunted squall of ‘Poles’ and ‘Love Light’. After the EP winds down, I find myself disquieted by the abrupt silence – as if all I ever knew before was the noise of Soot. It’s a great effort from kids that have set the rulebook alight – punk twisted and turned on its head, made more exciting in the process.
If you dig it, be sure to also check out Soot’s previous release – 2019’s Pockmarked With... Soot!, which came out via Eternal Soundcheck.