Chained – 2 Square / Mark Gardener (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Autobiographical songs tend to have a quality to them that those which are perhaps a collection of imagined scenarios or made up sentiments can’t even come close too. As Mark Gardener’s lyrics reminisce on a time where he had to face up to his personal demons and unhealthy life choices, and chose to defeat them by starting a new life elsewhere, you can hear all of those qualities made manifest. You hear honesty, soul-searching, reflection and sorrow as he looks back at a difficult point in his life, one where he had lost his band and was in danger of losing himself.

The song is a collaboration with 2 Square a.k.a. Stephan Haeri and the two have forged a unique sounding track to say the least. It moves from minimalist ambience through ever increasing musical inclusions, a plaintive piano, buzzing synths and intriguing percussion, until a stark and unexpected drum break punctuates the track. It then returns in a more jazz fashion via a beguiling bass line and busier instrumentation.

The song reminds us of many things. It reminds us that it is okay to run away and start again, that a change is ten times better than a rest, that even the most challenging moments in your life can make for a great song and it reminds us that Mark Gardener remains as interesting and musically astute has he has always been.

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