Back in 1983 Martin Springett released an album called ‘The Gardening Club’, which many years later was made available again by Gonzo Multimedia to much acclaim. Between the two events Martin had released a few more records, but it was very much on the back burner compared with his career to being an in-demand illustrator and artist, but when he started getting rave reviews for an album he had released many years earlier, the creative spark blew into a wild flame. Two albums have been released by The Gardening Club, named after that debur album, both boy ‘Boy On A Bike’ and ‘The Riddle’ absolutely compelling listening, with Martin working closely with his friend and multi-instrumentalist Norm MacPherson. If that was not enough, Martin has also been undertaking some wonderful gigs with violinist Sari Alesh, where Martin performs some of his song and Sari improvises over the top (check them out on YouTube).
Although this is called ‘The Time Trilogy’, it is also currently available in a limited edition which finds those three songs expanded to six, taking it up to 23 minutes in length. Martin had for some time wanted to work with guitarist Kevin Laliberte and bassist Drew Birston of the Sultans Of String in a slightly different musical area, and this is the result, which is why it has been released as being by A Gardening Club Project as opposed to The Gardening Club. It also includes a song recorded by Martin and Sari some years earlier deemed unsuitable for The Gardening Club, and here given a new lease of life with the addition of Kevin and Drew. There is definitely a musical theme running through the tracks, with both Eastern and Spanish influences having a major impact. “Sister of Theft” is a flamenco piece with wonderful violin and great guitar (plus claps and foot stamps), “Forever Leaving Home” is far more Eastern in its style, yet they fit together perfectly well. Of course, much of that is down to the songwriting and vocals of Martin himself, and we can all be grateful for the reissue of an album some 35 years after the original release, which has brought him to the fore where he has always belonged. I always think of Martin as being Roy Harper crossed with Camel, and while that is still very true over these six songs, it is much more the former than the latter as he has moved in a direction quite different to the albums.
There are times when this is quiet dark and almost symphonic, others we are in a bazaar, or in a Spanish nightclub, yet it is always compelling with different styles of bass and guitar bringing the listener back time and again, all linked together with Martin’s wonderful vocals. Some may say I am biased as Martin is the amazing illustrator whose work graces the covers of my books, but actually Martin sought me out after I wrote a review of the original ‘The Gardening Club’, before that we never knew each other at all. To this day I am still a fan of everything he does in the artistic field, whether that be in the visual or audio arts. The man is a massive talent, and he demonstrates that yet again on the is beautifully rounded and fulfilling EP.
9/10 Kev Rowland