18 oct 2021

Sault, the mysterious London collective whose last album self-destructed

Since the release of their excellent debut album in 2019   5which mixes soul, funk, post-punk and sometimes trip-hop, the members of Sault have never played their music live, have not revealed their name and even cultivate a secret about their number. Their last album, Nine, was deleted by them ninety-nine days after it was unveiled, making the soul collective the most punk band of the moment.

Sault’s album “Nine”, released in June 2021 on the Forever Living Originals label and removed from platforms ninety-nine days later.

It is not so uncommon, when looking for an artist’s album on streaming platforms, that it is nowhere to be found. This is often due, for example, to the mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra (2011) Frank Ocean, to disputes with other musicians who claim plagiarism and declare the samples of their melodies illegal. These masterpieces were then only available on YouTube, in their unofficial version, to the great displeasure of those who produced them… And fans too. However, it sometimes happens that some records self-destruct. This is the case of Nine, the fifth album by the mysterious London collective Sault, which, at the request of its authors, was deleted ninety-nine days after its release. 


You have to be very bold, probably a little punk and a bit anti-capitalist to give up royalties, but also the recognition that an opus can generate. Unveiled almost a year after the band’s two twin albums, Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise), released in 2020 and echoing the Black Lives Matter protests, Nine arrives on June 25, 2021 and, according to a post by Sault on his Instagram account, remains available for purchase and streaming until October 2. Then, this story of the childhoods spent in social housing projects in London, where the members of the collective are from, disappeared, leaving behind, on YouTube, a pirated and slightly sizzling recording.

To understand the meaning of this brutal, committed and enigmatic eradication, we must look at identity for a moment – musical, visual and simply personal – of the band, which clearly wanted to hit as hard as Radiohead at the exit ofIn Rainbows, and thumb its nose at the industry, which, despite the streams it has earned on Spotify or Apple, pays artists too little (or not at all). While Thom Yorke’s band released the first album to download online, at a free price, in 2007, and invented (unintentionally) streaming, Sault unveils a record with a sober track, whose sleek cover displays “NINE” on a black background, written with matches. These same matches that will be, like the album, consumed in three, two, one… zero.


The London collective could, to make up for this shortfall in the profits of its latest album, have started a world tour, scoured the indie venues of European and American capitals and indulged in an XXL promotion. But Sault, who has made the underground his business, did not give a concert and did not speak anywhere. Because that’s what his identity is: he doesn’t have one. We only know about him that his art is unclassifiable and that he has no face. Since the release, in 2019, of his excellent first album 5 which mixes soul, funk, post-punk and sometimes trip-hop, its members have never played their music live, have not revealed their names and even cultivate a secret about their number. With all-black covers, just embellished with numbers written with matches or photos of hands – fist raised or palms glued together – and the absence of music videos, the band with five studio albums stirred up English pop, tirelessly making fans and critics speculate. 

On the Internet, everyone has their own prediction. Some mention a certain Dean Josiah, a close collaborator of singer Michael Kiwanuka (winner of the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2020), as one of the composers, while other journalists (from the Guardian for example) imagine soul singer Cleo Sol and rapper Kid Sister, sometimes credited on some of the Kanye West, like the voices of the group. These two are the only ones, along with Sault, to be signed to a mysterious British label, Forever Living Originals… For our part, if we dream that Dean Blunt, the virtuoso Londoner who flirts with folk, rock, rap and even metal on his personal projects, is the instigator of the project, we are sure of only one thing: you don’t need a surname to be a great artist.

Untitled (Black Is)

and Untitled (Rise),

by Sault, available.