Gardening by Moonlight - Method in the Madness (1983)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 6:35 AM

Rich, pure and astonishingly subtle, Gardening by Moonlight's first album offers layer upon layer of magical invention. Crescendos of percussive symmetry form a backdrop for cleverly twisting atmospheric tangents that elevate GBM to the status of Thomas Leer and bands like Shriekback and The Cocteau Twins.

Astonishingly clever innovations and a more tongue-in- cheek rejection of the saturated neo-disco funk invasion forges a strong identity for GBM. John Johnson on drums and vocals is the musical dice man who traces the revolving, percussive patterns for Duncan Bridgemans pumping synth to decorate. A founder member of Wayne County and The Electric Chairs (I kid you not) and a veteran of The Flying lizards and the Skids, Johnson,s vocal talents have long been overlooked. "Diction and Fiction", a superbly orchestrated swinging sub-funk jigsaw, forms a tantalising matrix, with mysteriously understated vocals sweeping in and around the music.

Gardening by Moonlight succeed where other purveyors of a "new dance" mode fall short - they offer more than a simple re-juxtaposition of old tricks and much more than mere quality beat. Sculpting almost visual images in the air their only serious rivals at the art must be Swiss electronic eccentrics Yello, whose wackiness shadows their boldly innovative talent. But "Method in the Madness", a self-explanatory title, surpasses even Yello's convoluted progressions by combining the polarities of seriousness and fun. Elemental rhythms will give twitching bodies an ecstatic thrill...Camden Palace clones will drool to the beat, but GBM offer the more sedate audience enough intricate delicacy and intrigue to warrant hours of pleasurable discovery. The kaleidoscope Mardi Gras urgency of "Letters" and the warmly embracing fluidity of the title track owe much to Thomas Leer's pioneering developments with synthesiser combinations, but GBM successfully avoid plagiarism. If any criticism must be levelled (and they're hard to fault), its target must be their almost over clever obsession with technique. the production (credit GBM) is wide and deep but seems in places to dally with intricacies rather than ambience.

But this album is more about overall feel than technique and falls not one inch short of creating a new in-road in intelligent dance-orientated music. GBM have made their point - it can be done.
01. Method in the madness
02. Letters
03. Diction & Fiction
04. Whistling in the Dark
05. Weights & Measures
06. Strange Views (is it safe)
06. Chance
07. Strange News
08. Method Again (instrumental)

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