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Springett, Martin: The Gardening Club

Originally released in 1983, The Gardening Club was the debut album from Canadian Martin Springett. A collection of pastoral prog taking a huge dash of the seventies sound of Anthony Phillips or maybe even Steve Hackett and bringing an eighties sensibility to it all. In essence that should be right up my street and internet chatter has many other reviewers all a-froth over this 'lost masterpiece'. Yet, for some reason I simply cannot hear what all the fuss is about. Mixing vocal and instrumental cuts, the feel can often be dreamy and loose, but it appears to me more like a selection of songs lacking for an anchor than some beautiful shimmering evocation. Too often ideas are set free to simply float off on their own without a care in the world, or a thought for who might be listening. Springett's twelve string playing which is the driving force throughout is sublime, if aimless, and his touch deft, while his vocals do suit their surrounds. But there's an of their timeness about it all that seems to niggle and gnaw rather than sooth and salve; the echoing nature of how they are presented verging on slightly annoying.

On occasion a more forceful burst breaks through and tries to make its presence felt, or at least drive things on a little but these moments are often fleeting and the remains are allowed to wander and dander with no real purpose. Psychedelic patterns sometimes weave below a thrumming beat but just as you feel we're getting somewhere, so we return to the start and relive it all again. In the end I can't pretend that I haven't found this quite a trial and while I certainly feel like I'm missing out on the party, as praise is heaped on this album everywhere I turn, the only real feeling I'm left with is one of humdrumness being played out with no real force or meaning.

Beautifully packaged and presented (although omitting to name one of the bonus cuts in the track listing) this reissue from Gonzo Multimedia certainly looks and feels like a thing of real worth, but beyond that I'm struggling to convey just how cold it has left me and just how confused I am by the love its receiving elsewhere. That's not to say that it doesn't deserve that priase, just that I definitely can't find any reason to echo it. Maybe you will, so give it a shot and hopefully you find this to be much more exciting than the meandering dullness I discovered.

Track Listing
1. Midnight Road
2. Mole Hole Blues
3. The Traveller
4. Andromeda
5. The Garden
6. Three Days At Brighton
7. Rebirth
8. The Stone That Speaks
9. Endersby Meets The Team
10. Aerial Adventures
11. Endersby Meets The Chef
12. Nirvana Isn't
Bonus Tracks
13. After The Glow
14. Upside Down Blackbird
15. When You Live This Way
16. New York Moon
17. The Riddle Overture

Added: February 24th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Martin Springett @ bandcamp
Hits: 420
Language: english

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