Earlier this spring, an unknown name started cropping up on the British summer festival posters.
It wasn’t littered at the bottom with the other new, breaking names, but sat far more prominently and in a bigger, bolder font size – A Blaze of Feather.
A Blaze of Feather is the music of Ben Howard’s guitarist and friend Mickey Smith. Long-time Ben collaborator Mickey leads the six-piece, which actually features the same cast of musicians as Howard’s band, including former Hiss Golden Messenger percussionist Kyle Keegan and even Howard himself. Smith, Howard, and guitarist Nat Watson produced the LP in a “makeshift studio” in Cornwall; it’s mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (The War On Drugs, Daughter).
The music shares a similar atmosphere and sonic world should come as little surprise, though perhaps it’s a little more celestial and electronic. A fantastic guitarist and songwriter, Mickey is also responsible for all the artwork and forthcoming video footage that will accompany the music. A Blaze of Feather is simply the latest outlet for his art, and a first musical endeavour outside of his worldwide touring with Ben and his surf photography and film.
“The songs that form this self-titled debut LP were sparked amongst the Winter storms that haunt the west coasts of Ireland and Cornwall,” explains Smith. “Touring and living on the road away from family can take their toll and it’s only after you return you really know the cost. Each one of us walks our own thread of sanity. For myself, the strange hope of fatherhood flickers amongst the shadows of grief and memories of loved ones lost. I count myself lucky to play in a band that offers sanctuary on many levels and shape shifts so instinctively together. It’s a rare understanding to share and something we don’t take for granted. This past year has spun by so fast we weren’t at all ready to match its pace, but we’ve rolled on as best we can. We have only just finished recording this record, most tracks were put down live and spontaneously. Now we are standing back and taking a look at the whole picture… to me it’s music for the madness of life, death, and the bittersweet spaces in between.”