Just a gorgeous, inimitable, eternal album, that deserves to live forever.
The Gardening Club is probably a lot like the records your parents played to death: Yes, King Crimson and the like. The latest release from Space Wreck Records (a label helmed by Koyama Press’ Ed Kanerva) features canoodling guitars, light-footed drums, far out storytelling and prog rock hyperbole in droves. But since musician-illustrator Martin Springett recorded the album in 1983, at the height of electronic and new-wave hype, The Gardening Club procures itself an affective identity that’s much more paradigmatic. Springett calls it the “cosmic giggle”. And this becomes even more apparent when listening in 2016. The record sounds like the ‘70s; channels the aesthetic and narrative attributes of Middle Ages poetry and art; was released during the heyday of futurist pop, and is now being reimagined more than 30 years later. Naturally, given Kanerva’s day job, the release is accompanied by a gorgeous full-color comic book by Springiest, featuring acid-drenched visuals pulled from the pages of Alice in Wonderland and a coterie of decidedly proper parachute-skirted British ladies. The Gardening Club is currently sandwiched between Chance the Rapper and Mercyful Fate on my Itunes’ recently played folder. All boundaries of past, present and future are fleeting and this record will show you why.
Jeff Low, Broken Pencil
Written by: Kev Rowland
Martin Springett is probably best-known as an artist, but over the years he has also released some albums, and this one from 1983 has just been reissued by Gonzo. I had not heard of Martin, and it was only because I had read a review in the mighty Gonzo magazine (what do you mean you don’t read it? As Jon says, “It’s stylish, it’s witty, it’s subversive, it’s free. It’s everything you want from a music magazine”. I was intrigued, and knew that I had to find out more, so soon had a copy sent to deepest darkest New Zealand. To say that I was blown away on hearing it is something of an understatement. That this is a classic isn’t even up for debate, the only question in my mind is how on earth has this been missed by progheads? It all has to be down to timing, if it had been released ten years earlier then it would have been written about by the mainstream press, but back in the early Eighties it was hard to discover any prog unless you had a frontman called Fish – even Twelfth Night and Pallas suffered, so an ex-pat living in Canada didn’t stand a chance.
But, thanks to Gonzo we all now have the opportunity to relish this. Think ‘Breathless’ era Camel, combining forces with Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips, and it is an album which made me smile from the first song to the very last. I must make mention of Bob Brough, who contributes some very fine soprano sax, and makes instrumentals such as “The Traveller” very much his own. There is a great deal to discover and enjoy on the album, with songs making way for instrumentals, 12-string acoustic guitars to electric, always with a strong sense of melody. It is dream, it is reflective, it is pastoral, it is very simply bloody excellent! This is simply one of the finest reissues I have ever come across in terms of pure musical enjoyment. To find out more about Martin, his art and his music, then visit his website. All progheads should have this: I personally could play it all day and not get tired of it.
A special treat: Martin Springett’s Gardening Club and the first year anniversary of this blog, October 13th, 2014…
Comment on the review:
Wow – Special treat indeed! Real killer artwork & a masterpiece of music – this is a Monster!! Enchanting, moody and beautiful…love the instrumentals, they strike a chord in my soul…
Hearty Thanks my friend 🙂
And can’t believe it’s already been a year,
Thank you so much for all the rare and wonderful music,
forgotten treasures uncover new horizons…
Here’s to many more bro!!!
“The Gardening Club bursts with passion and sorrow, quirk and groove, and proves that sometimes you can go home again. From the swirling suggestion of “Moon Mischief” to the ever-so-slightly off-kilter vibe of “Upside Down Blackbird”, this album is a moody, musical bit of time travel. Past and present meet here, in Springett’s voice and guitar, and in words about long-lost friends and the kind of yearning that never changes. Onward, to the future!”
Caitlin Sweet, author of The Pattern Scars, The Door in the Mountain and The Flame in the Maze among others
How I unearthed a long-lost Toronto prog rock album
Martin Springett’s The Gardening Club is cosmic Canadiana at its best, and his story is a CanCon prog rock version of the Searching For Sugar Man saga