Gardening By Moonlight ‎– Method In The Madness

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postpunkmonk

postpunkmonk

April 9, 2009
edited over 6 years ago
referencing Method In The Madness, LP, INTO 2

I first heard of Gardening By Moonlight in a 1983 John Foxx interview where he was asked what he enjoyed listening to at that time. That's where I first heard the name Virginia Astley and also GBM. Seeking them out then became a priority. Amazingly enough, I soon found them in the used bin of my favorite record store - Crunchy Armadillo Records. The duo consisted of drummer/vocalist John Johnson and keyboardist Duncan Bridgeman. Johnson was in The Skids and earlier, Wayne/Jayne County's Electric Chairs. Actually, I was long familiar with D. Bridgeman at the time. He was in the cult Compact Organization band Shake Shake and as of 1981 was in Foxx's band on keys with his partner from Shake Shake, Jo Dworniak on bass on both the Garden and Golden Section albums. If you're not familiar with them, and I would not be shocked if that were the case - they were issued on an obscure Island Records label [Interdisc] I've never seen any other releases on, they are a unique synth duo from 1983 with A Peter Saville Cover. Need I say more? No bass/guitars save for a few, sparing touches on 1-2 tracks... BUT violins & cellos are all over it! Imagine Shriekback and maybe a little Depeche Mode [circa "Construction Time Again"] with mixing by Adrian Sherwood [who actually did mix much of this]. Tasty, dubby, unique stuff.

If this album has any weakness, it's that there really are only seven songs here. Track 6, "(Is It Safe) Strange Views," is a dub mix also serving as the b-side of the debut single, "Strange News." The final track on the album, "Method Again" is a six minute dub of the entire album, ala "Top Ten Again" from the Flying Lizards, "Top Ten," which appeared the following year. Not surprising since Johnson also played with The Flying Lizards on their much-sought-after "Fourth Wall" LP, so David Cunningham may have nicked the idea of ending the album with a dub mix of the whole album from GBM!

The sombre title track gets things off to an unsettling start, but the listener is rewarded immediately afterward with the brilliantly arranged, "Letters." Why this was not a single, I can't say. The Speak & Spell hook is a classic of its kind, followed by very-Depeche Mode sounding synth riff sounding like a lost bit of "Construction Time Again" swirled into the vibrant mix. The interplay between Johnson's vocals, the sound FX and the rhythm bed is pretty contagious!

The next track is the sumptuous "Diction & Fiction," which was the band's second single. The electrofunk music bed is peppered with tasty percussion that heightens the tension in the cinematic tune. Lovely! This is followed by "Whistling In The Dark," the band's final single [only on 7 inch]. Another acme is the leadoff track from side 2, "Weights + Measures." I will forgive you for thinking you are listening to a "Care" outtake from Shriekback as this track develops with as glorious a reptilian noise as anything from Barry Andrew's band.

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