“Ride’s a tough act to follow, but I’m loving what I’m hearing…�?

Mark Gardener

Strong words for Mark Gardener about the process of creating "These Beautiful Ghosts," his first solo effort since his now-legendary group Ride disbanded. Ride, for you youngsters, kick started the “shoegazing�? movement of the late eighties/early nineties in the UK and influenced artists for years to come. Not to disparage the impact that their music had on those times, but you know, that was then, this is now. Mark says, “My passion for making music hasn’t changed, but of course, I’m a completely different person now.�?

Make no mistake; Gardener has been indulging that passion for a while now. And like most records, this one has a story…

Back in February 2003, after spending a couple of years laying low, shacked up in barn in a walnut orchard in Le Lot and then travelling in India, Mark leapt at the opportunity, offered by the success of the Ride Best Of release, to play live again. The first showcase turned into a full two-month solo acoustic tour with Mark playing mostly Ride material, but also a smattering of brand new stuff.

Prior to heading off to the States Mark played a low-key warm-up show in the Cellar Bar in Oxford where he was joined onstage for half the set by local alt. country stars Goldrush. As fate would have it, Andy Bell was over from Stockholm for a day and both he and Loz Colbert joined Mark and Goldrush onstage for an extra "near-Ride-reunion" encore (Steve was in the Shetland Isles at the time).

When Mark returned from his US tour, he and Goldrush decided to record some tracks together for an exclusive Tour EP: "Falling Out Into The Night" featured one Mark song, “Snow In Mexico,�? (we’ll get to that later), one Goldrush song and one Ride song, the aforementioned, “Dreams Burn Down.�? A few copies leaked out and the lead track was played on BBC Radio 1 and on BBC 6music A few months later, Mark would play a packed out London's Spitz on the 30th July with Goldrush as his backing band.

More writing and demo-ing followed in August and then 2 months in the US taking the Gardener/Goldrush touring format Stateside. In true ambitious fashion, Mark and Goldrush then rambled from the East Coast (where Mark continued to record some of the tracks that would become "These Beautiful Ghosts") to the West Coast, to Hong Kong, Japan, Europe, then back to London and a quick jaunt to Spain. Whew. Then, it was more writing (in France), a well-received tour of Australia (w/sometime Ride keyboardist Nick Moorbath) and some more shows in Spain.

Mark then returned to France in the summer of 2004 to finish writing "These Beautiful Ghosts."

The remainder of the year was punctuated with occasional live shows with Goldrush including an appearance on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury. Mark also hooked up with French duo rinôçérôse to write and record some tracks for their imminent V2 album release.

Buoyed by the inspiration from his travels, Mark returned to New York early in 2005 to work with producer Bill Racine. Bill had engineered the Tarbox recording sessions at the end of 2003 and Mark wanted him to record and mix the remainder of the tracks.

"These Beautiful Ghosts" opens with “Snow In Mexico�? (I said we’d get back to it), an ethereal and poignant piece Mark says is, “… about people collisions.�? Inspired by a newspaper headline, Mark ran with the spirit of the words. “It’s really about how people can blow hot and cold, be one way one minute and then completely different, the next.�?

Texturally, the record does retain some of the atmospheric nuance that Ride knew so well. For reference, listening to mammoth pieces like the sweeping “Gravity Flow�? but "These Beautiful Ghosts" is completely different animal. “I wanted to make a record that’s got some weight and some emotional content, but is also interesting to listen to.�? The emotive quality of the record is certainly not lost to its soundscapes. Rather, the wedding of neat sounds to songs that reach out to us are palpable as in the bonafide pop song, “To Get Me Through�? and the gorgeous “Summer Turns To Fall�? (actually penned by Robin from Goldrush and American songwriter Danny Power while meditating on Mark’s time with Ride), with its uplifting harmonies reminiscent of the best things Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young have ever done. The rest of the record rolls off like a desert wind- memorable, mysterious and refreshing.