Friday, 20 July 2012



I’ve been waiting a long time for a contemporary record which, as a whole package, possesses a superlight speed capability to induce something akin to time travel phenomena. Stick on this stunning debut from Syd Arthur and you will find it hard not to be whisked through the time vortex back to the late 1960s. Be prepared as they cruise you leisurely through to the mid 70s before freefalling back to the present via their mystical musical time machine. Just one listen and you’ll be following wide eyed and pied piper-like. The superb fusion of psychedelic sounds draw you in and hook on tight taking you on a wild ride via this magical music bus from Canterbury. You will remain firmly strapped in until at least the end of the final track.

Things kick off perfectly with album opener First Difference. A fairly up-tempo number, it sets out the sound that follows nice and clearly while holding a lot back in just the right way. On An On feels like an epic journey without it being a true, story concept album that would perhaps require too much attention. Instead, each song awakens the inner explorer so you’ll want to delve deeper into not only the lyrical underpinnings but also into the countless different styles the band manages to employ throughout. With just the two opening tracks they demonstrate the proficiency of their musicianship and yet build on this much further with the likes of the largely instrumental and original sounding, Night Shaped Light.

Ode to the Summer breeds thoughts of hot cloudless days which cascade through the mind and will have you reaching for your Pimms on the porch table while you gaze up at the evening sunset. Dorothy demonstrates a softer range with a feel of late night blues and jazz. However, the smoke filled rooms of Deep South bars clears away ready for the launch into the hustle and bustle of Truth Seeker. Then the Black Wave washes over you, at first with a gentle whoosh before swelling up into tidal proportions that are reined in with a clever restraint that won’t drown you. There is a return to the bluesy jazz sound with the penultimate, Moving World giving the sense of it really trying to move the world around you while you sit relaxed taking it all in.

As great as the rest of the album is, Paradise Lost is the perfect way to finish. Epic is an understatement with so many reminders of some of the best of the classics not least at one point during the nine minute musical marathon, of Led Zeppelin’s No Quarter. This is what a layered song should be like, with so many seemingly abrupt yet flawlessly timed changes in rhythm producing something that can be described as nothing short of exquisite. I’d urge any of the band’s contemporaries to take lengthy notes should they wish to attempt anything similar. One thing’s for certain, Paradise isn’t anywhere near to being lost thanks to this song, or indeed the whole collection.

This is true progressive psychedelica which while steeped in the folk-rock tradition, certainly isn’t tied down to it. It moves effortlessly through genres without losing any firm sense of identity. Perhaps tamer than what may have been offered up by those back in the day but I’d say this is easily one of its strongest points as it refuses to let the history dictate what it should be, like it could so easily have done. This is an original work of magnificence able to stand alone to revel in its own splendour. While being accomplished enough to sound sure of what it is, it nevertheless remains blissfully experimental. Imaginative, creative and superbly produced by the band themselves. For a debut this is a true winner.

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