| HELEN FITZGERALD | MELODY MAKER
GARDENING BY MOONLIGHT
IN THE MADNESS
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.
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.
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
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.
MELODY MAKER October 22, 1983.