Martin Springett 2018
Harvesting fruits of his illustrious past, Canadian artist serves up a long-overdue sequel to an almost apocryphal album.
It took Martin Springett three and a half decades to return to the mindscape he came into for "The Gardening Club" – a record which, recently prepared for rediscovery, lends its title to the veteran’s new project now – and it was well worth the effort. Not that he ever stopped creating, be it drawing or making music, yet Martin’s debut has remained special, in somewhat enigmatic way, and “The Riddle” may feel like Springett’s own attempt to find the reason why. Musically, these numbers are different from the old ones – they’re robust and fleshed out with arrangements not focusing on the composer’s tender strum, but on quality storytelling which has a lot to do with modern escapism and is accompanied by his immersive artwork.
With “Overture” ramping up the excitement with an exquisite weave of what sounds like insistent cello and relaxed slider roll, and the piece’s acoustically driven reprise bringing the trip to a close, as ethereal ivories and six-string layers tap into cosmic consciousness, there’s a lot of adventurous moments in this rucksack symphony where folk motifs unfurl into progressive ruminations on life – such as the album’s title track. While “Whirled Away” has playful levity written all over its strings-drenched, ska-kissed tune housing Springett’s down-to-earth voice, “Seven Year Old Poet” is a somberly cinematic account of some less celebratory events – laid out in an ever-shifting tempo, with orchestral lull and spoken word adding to delicious vertigo.
Secretly intrepid, the record also features fusion-minded instrumentals like “Blues For Richard” or “Waltz” and gentle flamenco-tinctured “Pauline” whose woodwind is wonderfully warm, as if preparing the listener to the sax-smeared “Tears At The Matinee” that will see lachrymose delivery anchored with elastic bass lines. Further on, the listener must encounter languid, lethargic even, dirge of “The Original Sleep” which is lyrically rolling its two parts towards sweet, percussion-spiced psychedelia until Norm McPherson’s guitars reveal slight rage behind this pastoral travel through space and time.
Whether the riddle is unraveled here would be a moot point, though, one giving hope for another sequel in the poetry-in-motion series of aural pictures.