Mark Springer was one of the more forward-thinking figures to lead Bristol’s post-punk scene in the early 1980s. His work as a pianist in one of the most exciting bands to come out of the era, jazz-punkers Rip, Rig and Panic, exhibited a freeform lucidity that paid respect to both jazz and classical and was undeniably punk in spirit. Check out his work on the band’s most gorgeous, supple number “Sunken Love”, and you hear Carla Bley channeling Karol Szymanowski while backing Marvin Gaye. At heart, Springer was always spiritually linked to the most important composers who laid the groundwork for modern classical music (like Stravinsky and the aforementioned Szymanowski) and his work on Menu clearly voices his love for the piano.
Menu is essentially a commitment to the instrument, a collection of songs that detail a lifelong dedication of work that has seen him through his formative years as an artist and through the freedom days of punk. Numbers such as the pensive, contemplative “The Downs” convey an almost curious circuitry of anxiety, a moment of indecision where the notes wind round and round endlessly in a quietly growing panic. Other tracks, such as “Bellissima”, flush with a romantic glow that is as pressing as it is subdued. Springer doesn’t forget his dealings with Rip, Rig and Panic. “Shook the Atmosphere” is a nervous, twitchy roundabout which has the artist pummeling the keys with the applied pressure of a madman while the multi-tonal, painterly drips of “Kroogspiel” are fraught with the memories of his wild days in a punk band.