Hailing from France, the group Sotos inscribes its brand of progressive rock in the rich avant-garde heritage of this country. Drawing inspiration from the Zeuhl of Magma and the chamber rock of Univers Zero (yes, the latter's Belgian, but it's close enough), Sotos weaves avant-prog anthems that are both challenging and driving. Comprised of a creative (and noisy) guitarist, a solid rhythm section, and a string section consisting of violin and cello, the group fills a gap between the directness of ‘90s King Crimson and the acoustic compositions of early Univers Zero and Art Zoyd.
Sotos formed in Bordeaux in January 1996. Guitarist Yan Hazera had grown tired of the usual college rock bands he was in and decided to try something different. He recruited four alumni from the French National School of Music, all young, most unexperienced, but all with musical tastes that included left-field progressive rock: Bruno Camide (bass), Nicolas Cazaux (violin), Nadia Leclerc (cello), and his brother Michael Hazera (drums). They were between 16 and 25 years old. From the start, Camide and Yan Hazera split compositional duties. For its first year the group focused on developing a repertoire of long, intricate instrumental pieces. The quintet played its first concerts in 1997 and quickly began to draw attention in prog rock circles, eventually expanding its French audience beyond the genre when it opened for Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor and alternative rock stars Noir Désir.
Musea, the biggest French prog rock label, put Sotos under contract and an eponymous CD came out in 1998 on its new music imprint Gazul. Favorable press reviews promised good days ahead, but the label failed to promote the band outside of France. After recording the soundtrack for Laurent Boulanger's independent film Les 1001 Nuits, the group was signed by the American label Cuneiform, joining a roaster that already included fellow countrymen Richard Pinhas, Philarmonie, and Nebelnest, but also groups closely related in style like Boud Deun and Miriodor. The group's second album, Platypus, was unleashed in September 2002. ~ François Couture