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The Gardening Club

The Riddle

Review by Gary Hill

This is the brand new album from Martin Springett's The Gardening Club project. It is based very much on a folk prog type of sound. Fans of acts like The Strawbs and The Syn should feel at home here. The booklet to the CD features Springett's artwork, making it a very visually pleasing release. The one complaint is that the track listing is a bit confusing here. There are thirteen songs listed, but the CD actually has 15. I've made notations on the track by track review to try to make up for that. I know that the second unlisted track is actually a continuation of the previous song. I have a hunch the first one is, too, but I'm not positive about that. I've you dug the previous album, you should definitely pick this up. If you just like retro styled folk prog, this is worth getting, too.

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Track by Track Review
The Riddle Overture
This comes in intricate and based on a symphonic prog texture. It works up to more rocking as the electric guitar weaves lines of melody. A keyboard solo takes over beyond that. This instrumental is a great way to start the set.
Whirled Away
The guitar on this weaves a folk prog kind of sound. There are definitely elements of psychedelia built into this. There are hints of the Beatles, but also nods to jazz. This is energized and quite tasty.
Seven Year Old Poet
More of a dramatic sound opens this. Here we get another folk prog based cut. This reminds me of The Syn quite a bit. The song structure is more complex than that on the previous piece. This has a good balance between more rocking and mellower sounds. There is a cool break section with spoken vocals that lends some intriguing variety to the cut.
Blues for Richard
I dig the bass work on this track a lot. The number has a definite fusion vibe to it and a cool groove.
Unlisted Track
This track is a distinct one on the CD index (as in the actual tracks on the disc) but doesn't have an entry in the liner notes. Since it feeling almost like part two of the previous number, perhaps it really is considered part of that song. Still, this even more jazz-like. It's another instrumental.
Leaving Home
Mixing a rather jazzy texture with more of the folk prog sounds we've heard earlier here, this is an energized cut that works well.
Classical music and folk merge on the opening of this piece. There are some non-lyrical vocals on this melodic piece. Beyond that, though, it's an instrumental.
Notes on the Affair
I love the jazz textures on this cut. The cadence on the vocals is very cool, too. There is almost a dreamy kind of melodic element to this piece. It's one of the most effective numbers here. It still has plenty of that folk prog element along with some hints of Americana at times. The acoustic guitar work on this adds so much to it.
The Original Sleep Part One
I love the tone of the opening folk prog movement. Again I'm reminded of the Syn to a large degree.
The Original Sleep Part Two
As you might guess this comes in as an extension of the previous piece. I should mention that the liner notes show this and that one as one song, but it is actually divided into two in the flow of the CD. The bass work on this section is purely inspired. This number is more rocking and has some killer guitar soloing, too. The fast paced prog jamming later in the track is just so cool.
Tears at the Matinee
I dig the saxophone on this cut. Beyond that it's another folk prog based piece that makes me think of The Syn to a large degree.
There is a good energy and rather playful vibe to this number. I love the keyboard stylings on the introduction. There is a part of this song that feels like James Bond music to me for some reason. There is plenty of that folk prog vibe underway on this number.
The Riddle
There is some particularly intricate stuff on this track. Beyond that it's in the same general folk prog type sound that's been prevalent here. It's a classy number.
This is just a short instrumental piece based around symphonic elements and acoustic guitar work.
Overture Reprise
A more powered up prog jam, this has some killer electric guitar work. It's another instrumental that makes a nice bookend conclusion to a particularly effective disc. This has some cool changes and definitely brings some symphonic elements to bear.


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