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Saso is an enigmatic new band on an enigmatic new label (Melted Snow) from the U.K., in possession of a really gloriously minimal, thick, subaquatic sound that falls in somewhere between the brooding, elliptical sonic architecture of Iceland's Sigur Rós and the improvisational genius plus left field wankery disguised as easy listening that characterizes Chicago "post-rockers" like Sea and Cake. Naked guitars run throughout their music, mixing with other live instrumentation -- some lovely piano, deep bass lines, light percussion -- and subtle studio cut-and-paste techniques to create quiet, sometimes melancholy, late night moods. Ethereal vocals, like the forlorn keening of wayward angels, creep spine-chillingly into Saso's songs every so often. Cool and beautiful, in an exotic, unfamiliar way.

Saso's first release (also the inaugural Melted Snow release) was a five-song EP called Warmed Up, featuring the dark, swirling, mostly instrumental "I'll Be the Judge of That" and the meandering, unstructured "Numbskull." Saso's first LP, Big Group Hug (October 2001), is every bit as superb as the EP would lead us to expect, dominated brooding instrumental Talk Talk-inspired dynamics. Beautiful, but very uneasy. The album features "Big Group Hug" and "Bird Brain."

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