A Taste Of Twilight Essay, Research Paper
I love modern Canadian Music. When my band was starting out years ago I wasentranced by a small band from Windsor who had just released their first album. It wasSplendor Solis by The Tea Party, a blend of aggressive drums, blues vocals, and anassortment of rhythm instruments such as guitars, a sitar, and a harmonium. Critics at onepoint disliked Jeff Martin s resemblance to Jim Morrison in both appearance and vocalwork. Rock purists voiced their disgust in the use of drum machines. My father dislikedthe East Indian instruments and referred to them as Mujibur sings the blues. Needless tosay, my father has some issues. Five years and four albums later, the Tea Party havecontinued to prove that they are on the cutting edge of new music. Their adept blend ofmodern rock with East Indian instruments, drum machines, and Jeff Martin s spiritualityon stage has created a show that is dazzling. It is their combination of these uncommonmethods that makes The Tea Party the most incredible live band around today. One of the most disheartening musical trends in recent years has been the increasein drum machine use. A short while ago there was nothing that a drum machine could dothat any monkey with one arm and one leg could not on a traditional drum kit. Yet to thedismay of many rock purists an entire genre sprung up centered entirely around the abilityto push the bass drum button followed by the hi-hat button. This form of drummachine abuse is called Dance Music and for some reason has yet to die a painful death. However drum machines also allow for songs using rapid speed or unique sounds thatcan t be played using conventional methods. This new form of music has been dubbedjungle or trance and The Tea Party have not dismissed it. Instead they have exhibited inthe course of the concert that they can not only add these intense beats into their existingstyle but that they can perform them live. Instead of programming the drum machine, JeffBurrows attached it to his existing kit and actually played it with his sticks during songssuch as Babylon and Transmission. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone usea drum machine in such a manner and I must admit that I was entranced by the rhythms hecreated. If it wasn t a concert I would have felt bad for staring at Jeff so fiercely, it was allI could do to keep my mouth closed. The Tea Party is not the first band to familiarize a North American audience withinstruments and sounds from India. The Beatles and The Doors also walked this pathalthough not quite as far. These bands wrote songs with sitars and such in a style suitableto the instrument s heritage, then returned to their regular style with guitars again. The
Tea Party however took an alternate route. Jeff Martin once said that if he were topresent a Native who had never been exposed to technology with an electric guitar hewould learn how to play it in a completely different manner, it wouldn t be wrong, merelydifferent. When this theory was applied to The Tea Party s show I saw three young menplaying instruments foreign to them in a manner foreign to the instruments. A sitar wasnever meant to be played with a distortion effect by a North American rock band, yet itwasn t wrong, merely different. The shear number of instruments used on stage wasastounding. On their second album, The Edges of Twilight, the band used thirty-oneseparate instruments. Jeff introduced the audience to almost two dozen of these, includinga hurdy gurdy, a sarod, and a harmonium. Although it was obvious that they played someof their instruments wrong, Martin and Stuart were able to create hypnotic soundsthrough their interpretation of their use. Once more, I was awe-struck. One problem that many bands have today is that they don t see their performancesas a show, merely an exhibition of their music. This can be best illustrated between theirsongs. These gaps are often painfully trudged through by offering mundane chatter anduninspired conversation to one another or simply trying to figure out what to play next. Thankfully The Tea Party have transcended this problem. When I first saw them play in1993 at The Wharehouse, Jeff Martin had an act which was very raw. He spoke betweensongs of the true meaning of his work, presenting himself as an enlightened man in a landof darkness. While his speeches were entertaining, the attitude he presented them withcreated a distance between him and the audience. We just could not see the world as hewas attempting to present it to us. I have experienced their concerts several times sinceand on November 7, I once more encountered what The Tea Party could do to TheWharehouse, and how Jeff Martin now chooses to portray himself. He is still the dark,spiritual figure that I saw at previous shows and found so entertaining. However now hehas something more that allows him to step off his pedestal to show the people watchinghim that he too is like them. He now has something that shows him that music is not asdark or depressing as he once believed. He now has something that lets him smile, and Ismiled back. The Tea Party thrive on that which is different. Their unparalleled live show ishighlighted by such unusual forces as Jeff Burrow s drum machine, Stuart Chatwood sharmonium, and Jeff Martin s spirituality. While the next sound or idea they assimilateinto their work is a mystery to me, I intend to see it on stage when it s ready.