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The Owl (Long Form)

by The Gardening Club

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The Owl (Long Form) Track Breakdown

1 A Voice In The Evening Woods: Starts at 00.00
2 The Boy and the Bird: Starts at 03.26
3 Memory’s Arrow: Starts at 07.30
4 These Are The Days: Starts at 09.53
5 The Siren: Starts at 11.41
6 A Voice: Starts at 15.23

Here is a review below by Steve Stephen Bennett. Playwright, screenwriter, and two-time BAFTA winner.

Those of us who long ago charted – and survived - the Topographic Oceans of long-form Prog tend to approach any new, unbroken seventeen-minute offering with a considerable degree of trepidation. We sense the looming inevitability of that teeth-on-edge, ‘atonal bits’ and excruciating ‘experimental sections’ seemingly designed to link the actual tunes.

Fortunately, The Owl flies way above all that. Without ever sacrificing the compositional sophistication that marks the best of the genre, Head Gardener, Martin Springett, in tandem with long-time associate and guitar wizard, Norm McPherson, has crafted a tightly structured, mini-epic that manages to sustain a spirit of invention and adventure throughout yet is always geared towards engaging the listener in the unfolding musical narrative. No alienating, spiky self-indulgence to worry about, here, folks.

We enter via a softly beckoning acoustic overture, reminiscent of Foxtrot-era Genesis, before the lovely pastoral melody of “A Voice in the Evening Woods” blossoms into a gently time-shifting orchestral passage of interwoven strings and woodwind evocative of an idyllic, almost Tolkein-Esque, English countryside. The reverie shifts into darker territory as the lyrics to “The Boy and the Bird” emerge to conjure both the tension and apprehension of this fragile human/avian encounter before the ominous, minor-key mood softens, and McPherson’s yearning slide guitar brings the promise of a wary truce.

As the suite develops, unexpected influences begin to assert themselves. We start to suspect that the Gardening Club denizens have been listening to both Stravinsky and Bach during their quieter moments down in the Potting Shed. There are subtle hints of the Firebird’s edgy, octatonic scale at play here, alongside echoes of the Prelude in C minor’s high-wire melodic suspension that makes any resolution that much more satisfying.

credits

released May 7, 2021
Lyrics by Martin Springett
Music by Norm Macpherson and M S
Orchestral Arrangements by Norm MacPherson
Bass on The Boy and The Bird / Peter Dowse
Bass on The Siren / Drew Birston
Slide Guitar and Dobro / Norm MacPherson
James MacPherson / Drums
Bass and Acoustic Guitar on A Voice In The Evening Woods / Acoustic Guitar on These Are The Days / All Vocals / Martin Springett

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A Gardening Club Project Toronto, Ontario

THE GARDENING CLUB is a progressive rock band infused with plenty of other styles and influences, founded by Martin Springett, the band has released three albums, the Gardening Club, the Riddle, and Boy On A Bike. Based in Toronto Ontario and Victoria BC. ... more

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