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Syd Arthur: On And On

Debut album from Canterbury folk/prog/funk hybridists.

There is something about the names Syd and Arthur – probably because of Mr Barrett and the Myths and Legends of Richard Wakeman – that will cause prog fans to prick up their ears. For good reason, too. Syd Arthur are twentysomethings from Canterbury whose bucolic rock, bearing traces of folk, funk, prog and jazz, makes them latter-day exponents of the Kent town’s scene from the early 70s.

The four-piece produce and engineer themselves, and here you get a sense of a self-contained unit riffing off this creative freedom. And there are riffs, although they are often played on acoustic guitar or mandolin, so even at their most driving things never get too ponderous.

First Difference features instruments you would hear on a folk album, only the song is delivered with a prog punctiliousness. Singer Liam Magill’s voice is soulful, like ‘Jamiroquai jamming with Jethro Tull’. Elsewhere, Ode To The Summer has an easy tunefulness that could catch on. Dorothy is spacey while Truth Seeker is a folk Yours Is No Disgrace. Night Shaped Light’s instrumental extrapolations are pure prog, ditto the epic, unhinged feel and tempo shifts of Promise Me.

By the eight-minute closer Paradise Lost you’re checking the credits: is this a long-lost Yes demo?

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.