Saturday, April 23, 2011

EP Shakedown: Syd Arthur - Moving World

I had know idea who or what Syd Arthur was, but what I heard was not what I was expecting by any means. Moving World was another 'gift sent' to me by Ripple Music, and I really don't know what to make of it. It melds styles I previously thought un-meldable. Truly a conundrum of sound and style. I only label this as progressive rock because I don't know what else to classify it as, it is that much of an interesting mashup of style.

I'm going to assume Syd Arthur is either a nickname or the band name, like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull or Franz Ferdinand, a name that sounds like a person's, but is in fact the group's name (in my searches I discovered a theory that the band gets it's name from Syd Barret (original singer for Pink Floyd) and from The Kinks' album, Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire), so that's kind of interesting). I say this because the singer has a very peculiar voice; At times making me think it is a female singing, and at others just a really odd male (the first draft of this paragraph was all about a female vocalist, then I did some actual research and learned the truth). It is really odd, I can tell that he's British, but other then that I am at a loss.

The music off of Moving World is an odd conglomeration of styles. I hear elements of funk, jazz, classic rock, singer-songwriter, soul, Latin, etc, etc. Each of the songs begins in one fashion and then heads into another at one point or another. Track two, "Pulse," begins with a bluesy classic rock riff, then moves into a funk/soul blend. The following, "Exit Domino," spends most of it's time with only the (odd) voice and a plucked guitar melody, but at parts it becomes much more involved with a semi-impressive drum-cymbal collaboration and a much more heavy guitar (but still not close to metal by any means). The best part of the song is towards the end when the vocals cut out and the guitar goes into a frantic solo-style with a keyboard/maybe-guitar over it all. It all builds into this crescendo and then dies suddenly and drastically, leaving only a single wailing guitar. Probably the best song on the EP.

Throughout it all there is that solo-songwriter style of a focus on vocals and guitar, with the rest of the instruments only getting the green light to truly perform when the vocals are dormant. The final track is the best example of this; "Hermethio" begins with a big band sound, with piano, flute, strings, moving drums and a couple of guitars, their only instrumental track. This song shows that the act can pull off some decent music, but the rest of the disc doesn't really support this theory.

All in all... um, I don't know. I don't have some witty way to wrap up Syd Arthur. The music is eclectic and odd... but good. The vocals are... weird to say the least. There are a few good moments on Moving World, and a couple decent songs. The band knows how to play, and how to write some compelling music, but there is something missing in their conception. If you are in market for something interesting and odd then Syd Arthur may be just your bag, give them a spin and let me know what you think.

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