About Syd Arthur

Free and edgy, operatic and immediate, Sound Mirror sees Syd Arthur lighting out for the territory, reconfiguring contemporary psychedelia with a harmonic interplay of deeply felt songcraft, collectivist performance, and limitless invention. Their second full-length outing, the album sees traditional borderlines obliterated as elements of free jazz improvisation, floor-filling funk, and bucolic folk fuse with the band’s most concentrated and emotionally direct songwriting thus far. From the tantalizing “Garden of Time” to the prophetic “Sinkhole,” Sound Mirror expands and refines Syd Arthur’s already uncommon sonic multiverse into a brave new space where focus and concision is as essential as freewheeling abstraction and genre-shattering creativity.
 “The weirder stuff comes as naturally as the more traditional,” says singer/guitarist Liam Magill. “It’s all the same to us, really. Somehow everything filters through and comes out as us four guys and the sound that we make.”
 Syd Arthur – Magill, his brother Joel (bass, vocals), Raven Bush (violin, keyboards, mandolin), and Fred Rother (drums) – emerged out of Kent early in the new century, their post-millennial revision of classic British psychedelic music leading MOJO to proclaim them “Canterbury’s dazzling new sons.” On An On, the band’s 2012 debut album (released in 2013 by Harvest), affirmed their insatiable appetite for invention, bridging ambitious time-shifting workouts with indelible folk-pop dazzlers like the breakthrough single, “Ode To The Summer.” 
 Syd Arthur also earned hosannas as an exhilarating live act, honing their distinctive jams through near-constant performance, from their start playing self-promoted festies to myriad headline shows in both the UK and the US with support slots in the past alongside such like-minded artists as White Denim, Vampire Weekend and the one and only Paul Weller, as well as upcoming performances tours with Jonathan Wilson and Sean Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. Performing on increasingly bigger stages proved a valuable lesson and a significant influence on the band’s musical perspective. 
“It taught us that you’ve got to be a bit fatter in your delivery,” Bush says. “The intricacies don’t always come across the same way when you’re playing a bigger gig. It’s the main points that you’re trying to say that become important.”
 Sound Mirror’s genesis began in late 2012 with the band traveling to Rother’s parents’ house in Ireland, their equipment literally in tow. The four musicians spent the holiday season woodshedding as a unit, laying the groundwork for their second album in advance of what they knew would be a busy 2013. Indeed, extensive touring followed – including the band’s debut trip to North America – before they finally set to work in September at their own recently refurbished Wicker Studios in Southeast London.
 “Everything felt right making the album,” Joel Magill says. “There was no tension, we were all just pumped to have what was the longest period we’ve ever had just solely concentrating on music and being in the studio.”
 As with all their prior recordings, the band produced and engineered Sound Mirror on their own, its crystalline intensity and aural innovation reflective of the proudly self-reliant band’s ever-expanding mastery of the studio process.  
“It felt like we had a lot more in ourselves that we could get out before we reached that point where having a producer would help,” Joel says. “We’re well up for exploring that option in the future. We don’t have our heads buried in the sand.” 
Indeed, Syd Arthur elected to have the Sound Mirror recordings mixed by one of the industry’s top hands, multiple GRAMMY® winner Tom Elmhirst (Adele, U2, Arcade Fire). 
 “At first we were apprehensive,” Bush says, “because even though he’s obviously the best at what he does, we didn’t think, ‘Oh yeah, he’s the obvious guy.’ But ultimately, his perspective on our music was very interesting because he approached it with more of a broader brush stroke.”
 Having spent much of the past two years on the road, Sound Mirror echoes Syd Arthur’s deep connection to their home turf, its title referencing the massive concrete structures placed around coastal England to detect incoming enemy aircraft in the pre-World War II era.  
“They were the precursor to radar,” says Bush. “They’re very striking objects, basically facing out from England to France. We liked the idea of this mega mirror, reflecting out to the rest of the world from Kent.” 
Progressive in the truest sense, tracks like “Forevermore” and “Backwardstepping” evolve the archetypal Canterbury sound into a surprisingly heartfelt mutation of Arcadian acoustica and Syd Arthur’s own uniquely modern voice. “Hometown Blues” – perhaps the most plainspoken song in the band’s increasingly rich oeuvre – was born of a 2012 collaborative session with avowed fan Paul Weller at his Solid Bond Productions Ltd. Studio.
 “We were jamming and it just fell out,” Liam says. “Weller actually got my book out and read through it – that was pretty nuts. I nailed it, the essence of what I was trying to say.”
 Syd Arthur’s determined search for quintessence extends into the album’s more experimental excursions. Songs such as “Autograph” and “Singularity” gambol around rock’s outer limits, their gear-shifting extremes counterbalanced by windswept melody and brilliantly crafted production. 
 “I like to think we can get weirder and more poppy at the same time,” Bush says. “We want to reach a place where the songs can get tighter and more succinct and then when we go crazy, we really go crazy.” 
“Our take on it, at the moment anyway, is to present our music in a slightly more concise way on the album,” says Joel, “and then live, we explore the compositions and jam out.”
 That unbridled spirit of transgression and forward motion defines both Sound Mirror and Syd Arthur, a band preternaturally unwilling to settle down, forever looking towards the far horizon.
“We’re not ever going to stay still,” Bush says. “We’re going to keep pushing on. We feel like there are a lot of records to be made, if we can work out how to make them. It’s funny, as soon as we finish one thing, we start getting excited about the next one.”
 “For a long time, I’ve felt we’ve needed to get a lot further out of field,” Liam Magill says. “I’m looking forward to getting out amongst it, getting to explore further, it’s going to be really interesting. It’s going to be fun.”
March 2014
 

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