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The Tea Party - The Edges Of Twilight CD (album) cover


The Tea Party

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Mellotron Storm
5 stars THE TEA PARTY followed up the very successful "Splendor Solis" with an even better album in "The Edges Of twilight". We still get the same style and sound here, it's just that they've improved in just about every way. We even get some spoken words from Roy Harper on one track.Those strange ethnic instruments we heard on the previous album are still here giving this a strong Middle Eastern flavour to go along with the beautiful acoustic tracks and the heavy rocking numbers.There's a picture of Jeff in the liner notes playing this many stringed instrument that i've never seen before. By the way i've read so many comments from people who claimed these guys were brilliant playing live on stage.These three multi-instrumentalists were the real deal folks.

"Fire In The Head" is a song i've heard countless times on the radio and the lyrics are imprinted in my mind. I love when the song kicks in,the guitar is fantastic. Lots of atmosphere ends this amazing track. "The Bazaar" is the other track on here i've heard so many times. It's so exotic and you can just imagine being in the Middle East somewhere in a bazaar in the desert heat with people trying to sell their wares all around you.When this mother kicks in you know it's kicked in ! I like the fast paced vocals and sound here, and the drumming is incredible. "Correspondences" opens with piano and acoustic guitar.Vocals and drums before a minute.Great sound 2 1/2 minutes in with the vocals taking the spotlight. Organ after 3 minutes when the vocals stop.They're back quickly though as themes are somewhat repeated. Great track ! "The Badger" has this interesting sounding intro then it settles with some intricate acoustic guitar work. "Silence" kicks in hard right away with drums out front.The vocals join in quickly.

"Sister Awake" is another song I heard many times back in the day on the radio. Strummed guitar to open as vocals and that ethnic vibe arrive. It picks up after 1 1/2 minutes with tribal-like drumming. How freaking good is this ! "Turn The Lamp Down Low" is a fantastic blues flavoured tune. Check out the lyrics on this one as well. It kicks into gear before 3 minutes.Love the percussion late. "Shadows On The Mountainside" is an acoustic track with reserved vocals. Just a gorgeous ZEPPELIN- like tune. "Drawing Down The Moon" might be my favourite song on here. It sounds like a lost track from the "Physical Graffiti" sessions. It's bluesy and heavy with some ripping guitar. A powerful tune. "Inanna" is Eastern sounding with vocals and drums as well. It kicks in heavier after 2 minutes. "Coming Home" opens with some great sounding intricate guitar work then it kicks in before settling back with vocals. It kicks in again as contrasts continue. "Walk With Me" is the over 14 minute closer. Lots of atmosphere early then reserved vocals come in after 1 1/2 minutes. It then turns powerful and picks up. A calm around 7 1/2 minues then piano and spoken words (Harper) come in with lazy guitar. Silence from after 10 minutes until just before it ends.

In my opinion this is their high-water mark by far. It all fell into place perfectly here. Not a single average track to be found. Essential !

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Posted Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Edges Of Twilight' - The Tea Party (8/10)

While not having the same 'essential classic' quality as did the band's second album 'Splendor Solis', The Tea Party return with yet another excellent album here. 'The Edges Of Twilight' shows the band's sound taking a more modern twist, treading away from the highly Led Zeppelin-influenced sound. Although the band has changed up their sound here though, they have retained many of the same elements that made them an exciting listen in the first place, most notably their dives into world music. While 'The Edges Of Twilight' may not have the same sense of cohesion as 'Splendor Solis', I do not find myself disappointed in the slightest by this chapter in The Tea Party's history, and to fans of progressive rock, this might just do the trick.

Instead of an almost purely classic rock sound, The Tea Party now steers their course into something that sounds alot more like modern alternative rock, with the Middle-Eastern tinge still intact. On top of the guitars taking a more grungy sound to then, Jeff Martin's vocal style seems to have moved in turn, moving a little farther from the Jim Morrison soundalike style he had earlier. With all of these developments in their sound though, they do seem to have lost the endearing vintage sound that I found myself being really drawn to. Luckily, The Tea Party's sense of songwriting is intact, as is their commendable skills of performance.

There are some exotic rockers here like 'The Bazaar' and 'Silence' which can get the blood pumping, while having some proggy charm to them that one might not typically associate with energetic music. In other words, for some of the more memorable tracks on the album, think of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir', with a few more spoonfuls of caffeine. Barring that, The Tea Party also shows their blues sounds here alot, with songs like 'Drawing Down The Moon' and 'Turn The Lamp Down Low', which are usually tastefully done, but of course tend to follow some very overdone conventions of the blues genre. The lyrics on these blues tracks are also fairly weak, as they are for much of the album. Fortunately though, the lyrics- which are still incredibly derivative of Zeppelin- are the only weak part of the equation here, and the rest of the music is quite well done.

'The Edges Of Twilight' is not the best output from this band, but The Tea Party does show some interesting developments here. While I cannot say I'm in favour of all of them, the fact that they are not content to simply remain in one place is a sure sign of a great group, and I am excited to hear what other developments they made later in their career.

Report this review (#441383)
Posted Sunday, May 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'The Edges of Twilight' is THE TEA PARTY's acknowledged masterpiece, but perhaps you haven't yet experienced just how excellent it is. This power rock trio from Canada took their formula of hard rock blues and folky acoustic sound and slathered a layer of Middle-Eastern instruments, melodies and timing all over it, to end up with half a dozen all-time rock classics, surrounded by another half-dozen lesser (but still excellent) tracks. If you want to sample this band, this is where you start.

Specifically, this album is organised around the spine-tinglingly majestic 'Sister Awake', one of the best rock numbers of the 90s. More than a little prog-tinged, this six-minute adventure comes in two parts, a Moroccan-drenched intro and outro sandwiching a most beguiling centrepiece with enough riffage, drama and atmosphere to satisfy any lover of rock, prog or otherwise. This is THE TEA PARTY's 'Kashmir', the apogee of their art. It's that good. Go and have a listen to it now.

But to get there you will have already rocked out with 'Fire In The Head', an opener with more than enough power and subtlety to please, 'The Bazaar', a shorter track based on an eastern rhythm, and the longer, slower, bluesy 'Correspondences', a prog track good enough to be the highlight of many artists' careers. You'll have chilled out with the Celtic acoustic beauty of 'The Badger' and been woken up again by zeppelinesque 'Silence'.

The rest of the album's a bit of a curate's egg. For some reason the band felt the need to insert two of their blues numbers ('Turn The Light Down Low' and 'Since I've Been Loving You' - sorry, I mean 'Drawing Down The Moon') - just delete or skip if you're not a fan of this sort of stuff (I'm not). 'Inanna' is the other indispensable eastern-sounding track on the album and is cut criminally short, while the last two tracks would stand out on any other album by this band.

In the end this album's not about the individual tracks but the overall sound, which will, I hope, capture you and intrigue you over many listens.

Report this review (#1281213)
Posted Monday, September 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars 20 Years On: The Tea Party's The Edges of Twilight

It's kinda amazing that this album even exists in a way, let alone exists, and is good. This is a progressive hard rock album, released smack bang in the middle of the 90's, when both progressive rock and hard rock was at its most uninspired and awful. Prog then was either corny Dream Theater clones or corny wannabe 70's revival trite, and hard rock was split between grunge and post-grunge (aka buttrock) and AC/DC-style 'tuff guy' wannabe 70's revival trite. It seems ridiculous that somehow The Tea Party (oh, and these guys are called the [%*!#]in Tea Party) could put out a proggy hard rock record that a) isn't terrible, b) doesn't just sound like Rush, and c) actually is progressive and actually is hard rock is pretty incredible to be honest.

I'm going to say this straight away - this is better than any Rush record. Okay, maybe Moving Pictures tops it, but The Tea Party, at least for me, manage to merge prog and hard rock in a way that doesn't make me cringe internally. This isn't wanky nonsense with a punchier bass to give it a hard rock tag, nor is it dadrock with long songs to give it a prog tag. This is more or less the best progressive hard rock album I have heard, and it came out in 1995.

'Fire in the Head' is an absolute mother[%*!#]er of a song. I do hate using profanities to describe music, but there's simply nothing else that can grasp the balls on this track. From the harmonic- ridden guitar riff to the insane verse groove to the rich, powerful vocal lines, this song has testosterone levels that AC/DC could only dream of, yet does it without ever talking about trucks or intercourse. There's an insatiable swagger to Jeff Martin's voice here, with a very Jim Morrison-esque vibrato to it keeping the song in check. There are no tough-guy manly man-ness vocals of manliness here, because they're too good for that. It's so rich in powerful energy that even a rather campy Rush-styled pre-chorus lick can't pull the balls off it.

But the rest of the album doesn't try to repeat the energy of that track, and it shouldn't. Sure, a full record with the intensity of that song would have been pretty impressive, but it also would have been insanely dull. Despite me describing this as progressive hard rock a number of times, the majority of the album wouldn't exclusively fit in either. When it needs to pull some hard punches, it does, and there are some truly monstrous riffs to be found here, and the 'prog' side is more of a 'it's not generic trite' than a 'it has billions of solos' style of prog. The music here is tastefully written and arranged, which is a rarity for hard-edged rock music, even featuring soft, lengthy, piano led pieces, and a rather impressive acoustic instrumental piece, 'The Badger', focusing brilliantly on the harmonic play that many of the heavy riffs have, but with the acoustic instrument it takes its own form. 'Correspondences' is easily the other standout of the record, perfectly combining softer elements of piano and acoustic guitar with progressive structures and a couple of meaty hard rock riffs coming in its second half.

Jeff Martin's vocals really are the focal point of this album on the whole though, and I'm certain that without his romantic croon, this album would be nowhere near as impressive. He carries the music wonderfully through the album's otherwise pedestrian middle-run, with pretty much every song in this section being decent in one regard or another, often due to Martin alone. And I feel that this is the downfall of The Edges of Twilight. Although within the context of the 90's, this is absolutely brilliant and nearly unheard of - a new band coming in with the sounds of the 70's that actually legitimately sounds great, take this out of context and it's not as incredible. And the same thing goes for its genre. This may be a fantastic progressive hard rock album, but when has progressive hard rock really been fantastic? On the whole it is impressive, and definitely an essential album for any prog fan, but it's not quite as good as I want it to be overall.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

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Posted Friday, April 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars Take Jim Morrison, put him in front of Led Zeppelin, and stick them in an isolation tank full of bong smoke and early 1990s goth albums and you might end up with something resembling The Tea Party's The Edges of Twilight. Although they don't sound very similar, I kind of think of this crew as being a bit like a Canadian answer to early Porcupine Tree, in the sense that in both cases the artists in question apply some of the production styles and motifs of 1990s indie/alternative rock to a progressive rock agenda, though they are rapidly distinguished from each other by their choice of influences. Porcupine Tree mashed up trippy psychedelia with aspects of trance music and jangle-guitared British indie pop, whereas The Tea Party take the most progressive moments of the Doors and Zep, taken the progginess a few steps further, and give them a Sisters of Mercy sort of aesthetic. It's a weird, weird plan, but somehow it works.
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Posted Friday, August 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I was lured into listening to this album for two reasons: 1) it has such high ratings and recommendations on ProgArchives and YouTube, and 2) I thought it was an early album of a 21st Century favorite of mine, The Tea Club. (It's not.)

1. "Fire in the Head" (5:06) Steven Wilson/PT with Michael Gira on lead vocals. A little more grunge/metal than SW/PT, thus, influenced by their times. Great two-voice chorus! Really well-crafted, spacious song! Great production. (I'm listening to the re-mastered version.) Sounds like a child of Led Zeppelin ("Kashmir"). Feels like very mature song-craftsmanship. (9.5/10)

2. "The Bazaar" (3:42) North African hand percussion with horn-like guitar bursts into a pretty standard hard rocker. (8.25/10)

3. "Correspondences" (7:28) piano (there are no keyboards cited on the album credits) intro turns into a heavy ballad. It's pretty beautiful--with a great, very beautifully sung vocal. Tension builds at the end of the third minute--fulfilled by the amped up guitars and vocal before a brief instrumental passage with slide (bottleneck?) guitar. The next time we have that buildup isn't until after the next verse, chorus, and instrumental interlude. What a great gravelly voice Jeff Martin has! Nice guitar soli throughout--using three different sounds/guitars for each. Nice but could've rocked out even harder in the crescendo parts. (13.5/15)

4. "The Badger" (3:58) long Scottish bagpipe-like intro with some acoustic guitar picking over the top. Guitar finishes without bagpipes. Really a drawn out guitar interlude. (A little more Led Zeppelin feel here.) (8.75/10) 5. "Silence" (2:51) full-on LED ZEPPELIN opening with Indian lead melody line taken by vocal and mirrored by sustained guitar "horn." Congas and drums. At the two minute mark it goes full on Zep--especially in the rhythm department. (4.5/5)

6. "Sister Awake" (5:43) acoustic guitars strumming (sitar, too) over which Jeff sings slow and deliberately. I keep expecting the music to jump out with some "Over the Hills and Far Away" screams and walls of sound. It kind of does abit at the end of the second minute with a whole mess of hand percussion instruments building up over the wall of acoustic guitars. Then the whole song shifts into rock with a complement of Indian support instruments. The heavy guitars, bass, and driving drum beat definitely brings this East-affected song into the realm of Western rock and roll. A really amazingly well (lovingly) crafted song. (9.25/10)

7. "Turn the Lamp Down Low" (5:16) now to the Memphis blues--even using a little Elvis-like voice stylings. I can tolerate the swampy first half so that we can get to the rollicking, rolling second half. Nice transition! Nice impassioned vocal in the second half, Jeff! Nice Jimmy Page riffing, too! (9/10)

8. "Shadows on the Mountainside" (3:39) Now into the Ozarks. (Can't believe these guys were from Windsor, Ontario, Canada!) Great sound for all of the guitar and vocal tracks--so warm and intimate--and such great playing, chord choices! (8.75/10)

9. "Drawing Down the Moon" (5:26) A guitar-showcasing real blues rocker in the tradition of John Mayall, Robin Trower and even God himself, the Jimi. The vocal starts out a little bit too similar to the previous song, but amp up powerfully for the great chorus. This guitar noodling going on in the background goes from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Don "Buck Dharma" Roeser for the second verse. Wow! What a switch. Then to Jimmy Page & the Zep for the second chorus. What an amazing song! What vision! What balls! Rock 'n' roll does not get much better than this. I love how clear and direct Jeff's guitar playing is--no frilly unintended flashes, all intentional and purposeful. (9.5/10)

10. "Inanna" (3:48) Another East Indian-infused song; not as cheesy as George Harrison, not quite Shakti or other Indian raga-based, but the most Indian music on the album. The vocal is most like that of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, stylistically. Lots of sitar and other Indian stringed instruments used throughout. (8.75/10)

11. "Coming Home" (5:53) another acoustic guitar-based Led Zeppelin-like song with another Eddie Vedder-like vocal. Love the multiple guitars (including 12-string) in the lead up to the chorus sections. The rest of the song (and lyrics) are just okay. (8.5/10)

12. "Walk with Me" (14:20) great opening--like DEAD CAN DANCE (the hammered dulcimer) with STEVEN WILSON and METALLICA. But after that, it's all pretty routine near-Led Zeppelin stuff--perhaps a bit more spaced out, Petri Walli style. Vocals here remind me of the lead singer for FIELDS of the NEPHILIM (andy Delaney). (26.25/30)

Total Time 67:21

Surprise, surprise! What we have here is a heavily-Eastern India-influenced LED ZEPPELIN-inspired rock band with some very serious compositional and production ideas. I love how thoroughly "finished" each song feels. I gotta admit: this is one of the best albums I've heard to come out of the 90s--so finely crafted. I don't know if the original release is as clean and well produced as the "re-mastered" version I have, but I'm betting it's close. Still so hard to believe they were from just across the river in Windsor!

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Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2020 | Review Permalink

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