Music journalism

SAULT live, 14 December 2023, London


The trip

There was, I am sure, a ‘spaceship’ in the middle of the arena. Descend the sculptured concrete ramps and steps and there it was; a circular, enclosed perspex box. And during the show, the box glowed. It was like something from outer space. My friend saw black figures walk into the box and disappear. It was a trip.

Who are the mysterious SAULT who exist, with no information on their albums, no photographs and hide behind Instagram posts consisting of black squares? No notice releases preceded this five day notice show. A time of joy for many, who can finally see their heroes/heroines and criticism from a few, at the £99 ticket price.

The first part of the evening – pre-spaceship, art installation, catwalk, dancers, choir, orchestra and some of the most mesmerising musical performances I have ever seen – was also a trip. Outside the venue, a black clad security guard smiled: “Enjoy the show.” Black uniform would be a consistent this evening. I walked into a warehouse, a remnant of the venue’s previous incarnation as IKEA, with yellowing filing boxes with names hand-scrawled on cardboard and covered with cobwebs. Cobwebs, paper files? It dawned on me; the performance had begun. I then entered into a seventies-era living room, a cathode ray haze into beige, woollen armchairs and VHS tapes. A well-dressed Japanese actor muttered: “I can never settle”, as he shuffled in his chair. His wife, also immaculately presented, smiled. I was seemingly on the set of Coronation Street.

“Enjoy the show”.

I am a child of the sixties born the day before The Beatles recorded ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’, and down the road from where they rehearsed. My Dad fed me a diet of Hindi music and George Harrison; I used to sit in the garden and draw, as the song goes, “daisies in the backyard”. So a drug free, psychedelic-induced introduction to an event was perfect for me.

After the seventies style living room, I stepped into a walk-in fridge, then slowly into a cacti garden, with mirrored walls and a glass floor. Individual SAULT records were held proudly on heavy stone plinths, my brain slow spinning through the visual assault. Finally into the main arena, over a perspex walkway and was greeted by two impossibly, tall concrete walls with inscriptions listing SAULT albums. I had feelings of confusion, anticipation and above all, excitement. It was the best ever introduction to a show.

The performance

I was outside by the sinks, there were no toilets inside the venue, and I assume keeping to the band’s religious sentiment, no alcohol on sale at the event. A huddle of people around me, shouted “it’s started”. We run over damp concrete and industrial metal stairs. The sound inside was loud with repetitive hypnotic percussion from a sole drummer clad in Native American wear. For twenty minutes, we were entranced, eyes fixed to the middle of the floor, where the drummer stands on a raised stage. I took in the surroundings. The raised stage had a walkway to what will be the main stage. To the right, an elevated stage where the choir will be and to my left, a stage for the orchestra. There were two raised platforms on either side of the arena offering a view of all the stages – “open to everyone”, said the security guard. I noticed she was dressed all in black with a balaclava. There was a gap of a few minutes and without any notice a group of dancers ran up the walkway, and beginning a theme of mystery in the show, wearing helmets to conceal their identity. On the back of their white boiler suits, in black all caps, SAULT. The crowd roared.

The first of many fashion shows began with tall models, mainly of colour, walking confidently in extravagant outfits – stories of mystery, love, isolation. Shakespeare meets the late designer Virgil Abloh. I realised I was obscuring the view of the person behind me, as we both leaned against the railings for a three stage vantage point. She smiled, all was fine. This was the friendliest, best behaved and best dressed crowd, I have experienced in a while. We both turned in unison, as without warning the conductor raised her baton, the 20 piece orchestra glide into ‘4am’, a gentle, Autumnal-type piece full of sweeping cinematic strings and enchanting harmonies from the 100 strong choir. My stomach had butterflies, and the butterflies were seemingly dancing. ‘Air’, the title track of probably my favourite SAULT album (released last year on my birthday, see my earlier comment on The Beatles) is even better. The choir moved through alto, tenor, bass and soprano, the orchestra playing some beautiful, sweeping strings. It was a vintage 1940s Hollywood soundtrack, all monotone 35mm film and MGM rolling credits. ‘Time is Precious’ finishes this sequence, again it was wonderful.

Next was a troupe of African dancers, who threw shapes and gymnastics, turning and twisting to entrancing rhythm. It was brilliant and the three thousand crowd, nodded their heads in time to the music. An African theme runs through the night, some of the band are of Nigerian parentage – we have Ghanian High Life and Nigerian Afro Beat. West Africa soundtracking, cold industrial North London.

Without notice, Mercury Award winner, Little Simz ran along the walkway. She was the first of many Mercury Award winners – Michael Kiwanuka (2020) and producer Inflo (2022) will follow. It was fantastic. A massive burst of energy, lights, raw emotion and Simz, dressed in silver suit and head covered, won the crowd over in a few seconds. ‘Fear No Man’ had a killer Afro sound and massive drums, Simz lyrics – “Put my mum on the cover of GQ, You can’t relate ’cause that’s something that G’s do” – flows across the music and the crowd go mad.

In a 2021 interview with Vulture magazine, Simz explains the meaning behind ‘Fear No Man’: “I’m here and I don’t fear no one. I’ve got myself to this point, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.” It was an apt description of tonight’s show, a band willing to take risks and not fear anyone.

The show was relentless, again with little time to catch my breath. New York singer and bassist, Ganavya, was next. Steeped in the rich musical tradition of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadhu, Ganavya’s hypnotic vocals sway the crowd, with a cover of Monsoon’s 1982 classic ‘Ever So Lonely”. Again it was a purposeful cover, Monsoon were the first Indian fusion band to break into the UK pop charts at a time when the National Front (far right party in the UK) won a sizeable minority of the electorate’s vote. Ganavya was spell-binding, her long black hair hung loose over a long flowing white robe.

Behind a screen, behind the main stage, SAULT appeared in silhouettes, soundtracking the cat walk, the dancers (the acrobatic capoeira dancers, again, draw breath) and the support acts. There were four elements to tonight’s show – a choral/gospel intro, an African percussion section, SAULT’s as yet released ‘Acts of Faith’ album and a greatest hits. ‘Acts of Faith’, was gospel infused, with Cleo Sol on vocals. Sol, with chain mail and eye mask, emerged from behind the screen, her soothing vocals, filling the arena. Individual members of the band appear throughout the show, often in black and always with balaclavas. It added to the sense of intrigue and a feeling of closeness as we stand no more than 50m away from the most enigmatic band on the planet.

The sound engineering throughout the show was spot on, no mean feat considering the environment. The new album had the crowd moving, punctuated with more cat walks and dancers. At times it was a tad over whelming. I remembered a friend’s advice before my wedding – “take a deep breath, take it all in and enjoy.” I did this at the show and all was well. After two hours, the show could have stopped and I would have been more than pleased. My £99 ticket well worth the money. But there was much more to come.

The band

SAULT are surrounded by mystery, an anonymous band produced by the equally mysterious Inflo, with an impressive eleven albums released in four years. Most people will start at their debut album, ‘5’, released in May 2019 but the SAULT sound started in my mind in July 2016. The aforementioned Michael Kiwunaka’s ‘Cold Little Heart’ album has its roots in the SAULT sound produced by uber producer Dangermouse and Inflo, who plays piano on the title track. The stems of the SAULT sound go back even further. ‘Around Town’ by The Kooks from June 2014, showcases SAULT rock type drums. The rocky element of SAULT, and Inflo’s love of the genre is also apparent in The Snut’s ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ (which is an unlisted track tonight), THE S.L.P’s ‘Meanwhile In Genoa’ and for what me is for all intents and purposes a SAULT track, Kid Sister’s ‘Long Way Back’, February 2019. All are produced by Inflo.

SAULT released a second album in 2019, ‘7’ in September 2019. Again the blueprint goes back further, the 2018 recording between Dangermouse (who I have always thought was a member of SAULT) and Karen O and the album ‘Lux Prima’. Hidden away in the credits is Inflo, on vocal production and engineering. If all this spells of secrets, clandestine sessions and hidden music credits, then last year’s Adele album was a jump into the mainstream for SAULT. Inflo picked up a Brit award for ‘producer of the year’, and the album tracks – ‘Woman Like Me’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Love Is A Game’ – sound very much like SAULT tracks.

And then there were none

This event, and it was an event, encompassing art installation, dance, theatre and music, produces more than high art. Because make no mistake, behind the theatrics and the cloak and dagger antics, SAULT can absolutely play. The last section of the evening focused on the big hits and the band’s strong musical competence. Every crowd loves the ‘bangers’ and the band duly respond with hit after hit – ‘Glory/Bitter Streets’ with Cleo Sol, ‘I Just Want to Dance’, ‘Masterpiece’, ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ (with Kid Sister), ‘Angel’ (with Chronixx), ‘Why Why Why Why Why’, ‘Colour Blind’ (with Michael Kiwanuka, have you worked out who is in the band?), ‘Wildfires’ and ‘Masterpiece’. The latter had three thousand people jumping up and down, lost in pure joy. It was one of many magical moments in the show. And magic is in essence, what SAULT are about. A modern vaudeville complete with the magician Inflo, casting his spell and creating a celebratory fete of British culture.

And the ‘spaceship’? The same black clad musicians as earlier walked along the catwalk and disappeared into the ‘spaceship’. I couldn’t see through the crowd. Was that Inflo? And the lights burned brightly inside the ‘craft’. I tried to crane my neck but the orchestra two feet to my left, again played the most beautiful string piece which held my attention. And along the cat walk dancers, ascend great heights. On the far side, the choir burst into song. I caught my breath. It was a trip. “Enjoy the show”.

Biography and media


I have been collecting and writing about music for over thirty years from weird tango records to uplifting New York house. I was the founder and author of the world’s first series of guides to independent record shops ‘The Secret List’ covering Los Angeles, Paris and London. In the mid- nineties I worked for ‘Blues and Soul’ magazine and ten years later for the innovative ‘Shook’ magazine. I’ve appeared on BBC 6 music with interviews with Cerys Matthews and Gilles Peterson and have DJed in Bogota, New York, Hanoi, Paris, Leeds, Manchester and my birth place, London.


Writer/DJ/radio broadcaster/amateur artist

1991-1995 – Self-Published a fanzine ‘Left on the Jazz Side’. Interviewed Jason Rebello for the second issue, at the time the UK’s biggest selling jazz artist.

1995- Trace magazine, my first commercially published piece, a live review of George Clinton. Commissioned by Will Ashon, who later set-up the Big Dada label.

1996-2001. I worked for Blues and Soul magazine including writing the monthly jazz column between 1999-2001. I interviewed the great and the good including: Carl Craig, LTJ Bukem, Ashley Beadle, Courtney Pine and Kenny Garrett.

2003-2004 – BBC Music online.

2008- 2011 –  Shook magazine including one of the first published articles on record shops.

2013 – The Secret List – Los Angeles. The first published guide to independent record shops.

2014 – The Secret List – Paris.

2016 – The Secret List – London.

2023- played in Bogota as part of a British Council sponsored event to promote a modern, diverse UK and to highlight Colombian music.

DJ gigs: London – Brilliant Corners, Spiritland, Jumbi, The Standard Hotel; Manchester – The Refuge; Leeds – Outlaws Yacht Club; Paris – Superfly Records; New York City – The Ace Hotel; Hanoi – CAMA ATK; Bogota – El Coq.

Radio: interviews – UK nationwide, 6 Music (Gilles Peterson and Cerys Matthews); Worldwide FM, 2 hour interview with Gilles Peterson; Brighton, 1BTN (Version – Jim Lister); Melbourne, Triple R (Stolen Moments – John Bailey); presenting – Voices Radio, Run Dem Radio.


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Hello all, I am back from DJing at a British Council event in Bogota and am looking forward to continuing the fun with some new gigs in London town and presenting a radio show. I will be “taking you around the world musically”, including Colombia! Come down and say hello, or message me on air.

6pm-7pm, 8/8 Voices Radio. Trial show, listen in!

7pm-12am, 24/8 , Brilliant Corners, 470-472 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE

7pm-8pm – jazz including a host of Japanese jazz records.

8pm-10pm – global including a pre-Carnival selection.

10pm-12am – house.

7pm-12am, 31/8, Jumbi ,Unit 4.1, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, Peckham London SE15 3SN

7pm-8pm – jazz, global.

8pm – 10pm- Studio One, dub, dancehall, soca, calypso.

10pm-12am – hip hop, dubstep, drum n’ bass.

Jumbi is one of the few Black owned venues in London, promoting the wider culture of the Caribbean (and the food and drink are great, and reflect this).

7pm-12am, 14/9, Spiritland, 9 – 10 Stable St, London N1C 4AB.

I am pleased to say I will be joined Rileforce of Voices Radio. Rileforce is a seasoned DJ with over two decades of experience DJ-ing at venues such as Fabric / The 02 / Chinawhite / Café De Paris / CC Club / Rouge. His radio show embraces ambient textures, electronica, folk and everything in-between.

7pm-7.45pm – Wayne Shorter tribute (me)

7.45pm-9.45pm – ambient, electronica, folk, anything else (Rileforce)

9.45pm-12am – eighties, nineties, early 2000s – soul and boogie; new wave; surprise (me)

All times and genres subject to change.

5pm-6pm, 17/10, Voices Radio – New releases, Jeff Parker, Prince, Moodymann

Listen again

Tracklist –

Bex Burch – Dawn Blessings

Daniel Villarreal – Sunset Cliffs

corto.alto – Hello

Kamaal Williams – The Last Symphony 

Jeff Parker – Nu Nu Jo C

Jeff Parker – Supernat

Lord Tusk – Shame On You 

Brian Jackson – Mami Wata (Joaquin’s Deep Dub)

Kazzey feat Sally Green – Fantasy

Jill Jones/ The Family – For Love 

Prince – Colleen

Lewis Taylor – Stoned Part 1 

Moodymann – Forevernevermore 12” version

Busted Trees – Directions (C’s Spacetrumental) 

11am-1pm, 20/11/23 Voices Radio – covering for Sway of the Verses on his ‘The World Is Sound’ show, playing music across the Indian spectrum.

Listen back.

Track list-

Jeff Parker- Suite for Ma Brown

Tenderlonius – Kirani

Amancio D’ Silva – A Song For Francesca (from Konkan Dance)

Amancio D’ Silva – Raag Kafi

Lata Mangeshkar – Satyam Shivam Sundaram (live at the Royal Albert Hall)

The Indo-British Ensemble – Yaman

Roy Budd featuring Chris Karan – Goodbye Carter

T.K. Ramamoorthy – Sahana

Shankar Jaikishan – Raga Todi

Kishore Kumar – Kabhi Kabhi

Asha Bhosle – Main Hoon Tere Samne

R.D. Burman – Yeh Zindag Kutch Bhi Sahi

Kishore Kumar – Bachna Ae Haseeno

5pm-6pm, 19/12/23Voices Radio – best of 2023.

Photos and videos from Colombia.


I’m excited to be DJing at Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Road, Dalston E8 4AE between 7pm-12am, Thursday 9th December. I’ll be taking you around the world musically from ambient to house; to soundtracks to the leftfield. Rough timings and genres below. For dining, Brilliant Corners offers a £30 set menu, booking advisable. Listen here to my previous DJ sets. Come along and say hello.  

7pm-8pm: ambient, soundtracks, classical

8pm-9pm: jazz

9pm-10pm: esoteric; global grooves

10pm-12am: house; uptempo


I am having a launch party for the “it’s better to travel” website at Brilliant Corners, 470 Kingsland Road, Dalston E8 4AE between 5.30pm-1am, Saturday 13th April. Come and join Ben Newton, head of the Ceres Motion label and me for an eclectic selection, from jazz to new house, to obscure global dance floor gems!


5.30pm-7pm – Brilliant Corners playlist

7pm-8pm- Brother Sanjiv (ambient, jazz)

8pm-10.30pm – Ben Newton

10.30pm – 1.30am – Brother Sanjiv (music from around the world, eclectic, house); back to back Brother Sanjiv and Ben Newton