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The Gardening Club

Boy on a Bicycle

Review by Gary Hill

The latest set from Martin Springett's project The Gardening Club, this might be the strongest of the catalog. It doesn't have a weak piece. There are quite a few instrumentals, some of which serve as introductions to other tunes. Enough variety is built into the music to keep it from ever feeling samey. It always manages to entertain, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Riding the Thermal
A killer bass line brings this thing into being. Some cool guitar rises up over the top after a time. The cut grows out as a fast paced prog jam with some hints of psychedelia built into it. There is a bit of a dreamy texture to it, brought mostly by the vocals. It's a mid-tempo cut that has a killer instrumental break later.
Ravensgate
This seems to come out of the previous number. I love the prog groove on this thing. As strong as the opener was, this is even better. It's a real powerhouse tune.
Elemental
I love the dramatic, almost mysterious, symphonic prog sound that opens this. The guitar brings a bit harder rocking edge as it solos around the arrangement. This is a short instrumental introduction to the next piece.
Circling
A fast paced jam that's tastefully off-kilter and rocking opens this. There is a bit of a fusion-edge to the piece. For some reason it reminds me just a bit of the band UK as it drives forward. The introduction runs almost a minute-and-a-half. The vocals bring a bit different edge, but the tune still makes me think of UK at that point, too.
Night Ride
There are symphonic elements built into this number. It's a short and intriguing instrumental.
Boy on a Bike
There are some Beatles-like elements to this in some ways. The cut also has some fusion and plenty of more pure progressive rock in the mix. There are some intriguing shifts and changes in the mix. The piece works through some cool movements along the road, and some space rock is within it at times.
Elegy (for Phyllis)
While there are some other elements at play, this is essentially a beautiful acoustic guitar solo.
For a Moment
A horn brings this into being in an intriguing twist. The cut works out from there to something a bit closer to what is expected, but that horn still manages to infuse some jazz elements into the number. There is some particularly tasty bass work in the song. The addition of Denise Withnell's vocals is a nice touch, too. There is a real soaring vibe on this number. As the other instruments drop away near the end, the horn gets a full-on solo (with minor accompaniment) to end the cut.
The Clock
There is a bit of time-piece like feel to this cut. It has a dark and twisted edge, too. This is a short instrumental.
Wolfgate
Piano leads things out here. The cut grows outward into a melodic fusion kind of jam from there. This instrumental gets into some pure jazz zones before it's over.
The Brush Marks of Heaven
More of a dramatic and guitar based prog sound is on hand here. This is up-tempo and quite cool.
Cloud Gate
Another instrumental, this does a good job of balancing prog and symphonic elements.
Cycling Tour
A faster paced cut, this has some world music built into the prog stylings. There are a number of varying movements here. Much of the cut is instrumental, but it gets into vocal zones later in the piece.
Stitching
There is a lot of symphonic texture in the arrangement here. The cut has a cool timing to it. It is a dramatic song that's among the highlights of the set.
Gardengate
Folk prog, symphonic elements and more merge on this closing instrumental piece. It's quite a pretty number and makes for a satisfying conclusion to the set.
 
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