This page celebrates the Tea Party’s EP ‘Alhambra’,
by presenting photos, videos and articles from that period,
as well as giving background info to the album and it’s songs.
This website is part of the TEA PARTY ARCHIVES project.
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Using imagery from their Sister Awake video as an interface the enhanced portion of the CD contained:
On this and the next page, you can find the original video clips of the CD-ROM.
Please note: The videos are based on the original source, so the picture quality is unfortunately not very good.
The band also provided two 30-second live snippets from the Alhambra show in Montreal on their website, which you can listen to here:
Following in the wake of The Edges of Twilight the band released Alhambra (named after the Moorish Palace in Granada, Spain), a collection of reworked acoustic tracks, plus one new one Time, with Roy Harper on vocals. The acoustic tracks were stripped-back versions of some key songs from the Edges of Twilight recorded using the array of exotic instruments that had been showcased on the previous record. Also on the record was an electronic infused remix of Sister Awake by Rhys Fulber, which was a departure for the band’s sound but delicately hinted at what was to follow.
Revolutionary for Alhambra was its inclusion of over 47 minutes of multimedia videos, pictures and facts about the band on the album, which was ahead of its time. Each of the exotic instruments was showcased in a video segment, and a new official video for ‘Shadows on the Mountainside’ was included.
The band supported this release with a tour known as the “Acoustic and Eclectic” tour, which included two sets, one acoustic with the exotic instruments and then another plugged in.
During the preparing for the Alhambra tour, the band recorded 3 additional ‘Alhambra version’ tracks (The River, Save Me and Sister Awake) which later appeared as B-Sides on some Transmission Single releases and on the Triptych Special Edition. The band performed these tracks also in a Much Music showcase in 1997, prior to the release of their next album.
Alhambra has often been retrospectively called ‘The calm before the storm’.
Ed Stasium and Jeff Martin,
except * produced by
+additional production and keyboards programming by Rhys FulberRecorded and mixed by
Recording and mixed at
Dave Collins at A&M Mastering, Los Angeles, CA.Vocals on “Time” by
Background vocals on “Sister Awake Remix” by
Front & Back cover image:
The release of Alhambra in Canada was followed by a short tour during which the first part of the set consisted of acoustic, Middle Eastern-inspired pieces, while the second part was played with electric guitars. The band added 2 extra shows at the end of the Tour, which were not listed in th Tour booklet.
October 10, 1996 – Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver
October 27, 1996 – The Limit , Victoria
October 29, 1996 – The Rev, Edmonton
October 30, 1996 – The Republik, Calgary
October 31, 1996 – University of Sask., Saskatoon
November 01, 1996 – Pyramid Cafe, Winnipeg (2 shows)
November 03, 1996 – Lakehead University , Thunder Bay
November 07, 1996 – Lee’s Palace, Toronto
November 08, 1996 – Ottawa
November 09, 1996 – Bar Le D’auteuil, Quebec City (2 shows)
November 10, 1996 – Le Cabaret, Montreal
November 11, 1996 – Le Cabaret, Montreal
November 13, 1996 – The Turret, Waterloo
November 14, 1996 – Mohawk College, Hamiltion
Below you find the Alhambra Tour Programm, which was handed out at the live shows. A re-print was available at the Pledge
Live at Lee’s Palace – Toronto, October, 11 1996
The Grand Bazaar
Save Me feat. Ritesh Das on Tabla
Turn The Lamp Down Low
Fire In The Head
A Certain Slant Of Light
Live at Pyramid Cafe, Winnipeg, November, 1 1996
The Grand Bazaar
Shadows On The Mountainside
Turn The Lamp Down Low
*These snipptes were taken from Tea Party’s website. It is not known whether the complete concert was recorded by the band.
I’m sure you have heard the saying ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.’ Well after seeing the Tea Party try to play acoustically for the bone-heads who filed into the Town Pump for the band’s recent intimate set, I have a new one for you: ‘You can feed a monkey a gallon of caviar, but he would still rather be eating the bugs out of his neighbor’s hair’.
Jeff Martin, Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows are three extremely talented young men whose music is an incredible blend of modern western sounds and traditional eastern rhythms and melodies. The thrust of this intimate acoustic show was to give a select few fans the chance to see the band perform up close, while at the same time letting them in on the beauty of the eastern influences that inspire the group’s writing. As an unbelievable rare added bonus, this lucky lot of a few hundred would also get a chance to see these very versatile musicians play over 25 strange and wonderful instruments from places as far away as Iran and India – a beautiful concept with disastrous results.
An exasperated Martin spent most of his time sushing the crowd like a frustrated substitute teacher, saying things like “The key to this song is to be really quiet” or “We need to quiet down for this one.”
At one point, he tried to tell the history of one of the stringed instruments he was about to play. After realizing that the crowd (who would have moshed at the symphony, I’m sure) just weren’t going to get it, he made one final plea in a faint voice, desperately sinking to their mentality (“It’s (the instrument) kind of shaped like a peanut on a stick”) to which the crowd cheered wildly. Someone screamed “Play that fuckin’ peanut!” and I groaned painfully. I felt for Martin, who wanted to share his knowledge of music and genuine love for the instruments he brought on stage with those whom he believed would care the most – his fans. They couldn’t have cared less.
I’m sure the boys in the Tea Party realized afterwards that they had wasted barrels of their finest caviar on a roomful of chimps.
from: 1996/12, Access Magazine #21
By Mike James
JAM: On The Edges Of Twilight and Alhambra, as you mentioned, there is an extensive use of exotic instruments such as the sarod, santur and hurdy gurdy. What artists do you cite as inspirations for the use of these?
JEFF: Really it depends on what instrument. With the sarod, it would be Ali Akbar Khan. He’s the master of the sarod and I very much enjoy his music. With the hurdy gurdy, there’s many players. I’ve got these compilation records of French hurdy gurdy music that spans about 60 years. I think we were also very influenced on The Edges Of Twilight by Dead Can Dance, but it’s pretty much our own territory, with that whole Middle Eastern aspect of what we do. It’s something that I’ve been pursuing since I was about 12 years old when I first heard George Harrison’s Within You Without You on Sgt. Pepper’s. Ever since then, that became a passion of mine. That’s more or less what goes as far as influences.
JAM: With the release of Alhambra, as well as the upcoming record, are there any plans for starting up a new web site?
JEFF: Yeah, actually our new web site is under construction right now. It will be finished hopefully soon, within a couple of months or so.
JAM: Alhambra has a dominant Sister Awake theme as far as the visuals go. Is there anything behind that?
JEFF: We’ve always viewed Sister Awake as the matrix for The Edges Of Twilight. Everything kind of came out of that song. The video, as well, we feel to date is our most artistic statement in terms of representing the band. So there were a lot of strong images that we felt tied in with what we were trying to achieve with the CD-ROM aspect. That’s why we used all the imagery.
CANOE: In regards to the Shadows On The Mountainside video, was it ever released to be played on Much Music, etc.?
JEFF: No, it’s strictly for the CD-ROM. It was meant to be released in Australia, but it never got off the ground.
CANOE: Tell us about your Alhambra tour.
JEFF: We’re doing an acoustic tour. Well, I call it an acoustic tour but it’s not really. We’re utilizing a lot of the instruments that we’ve collected over the last four years. In the show we’re playing something like 25 instruments. But it’s a hybrid of electronic music and acoustic music in that Stuart Chatwood, our keyboardist, is doing a lot of keyboard work. We’re using a lot of samples that are played, nothing programmed or no backing tapes. Also, Jeff Burrows has incorporated some pads and some triggers into his drum kit, so it is a really interesting mix of sounds and mediums. It’s very cool. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
JAM: Regarding the upcoming record, is there any planned release date? You mentioned either February or March.
JEFF: Yeah, in a perfect world, my friend. But you know how these things are.
JAM: The Sister Awake remix is sort of a blend of the sound of Edges and a more electronic feel. Does the remix foreshadow the sound of the next album?
JEFF: Exactly. It does foreshadow it. But whereas the Sister Awake remix I find is very ethereal, the new material — we’ve completed 80% of the new record, so I can tell you — is much more aggressive sonically than anything we’ve done in the past. The Sister Awake remix is very foreshadowing in the electronic element in it and whatnot, but it’s not really representative of the mood of the next record. The mood of the next record is very dark.
The Tea Party has some major changes in store on their next album, which the band is demoing at their home studio in Montreal.
“We’ve sort of reached the last frontier for this band, which is electronic music,” bassist/keyboardist Stuart Chatwood is saying recently from his Montreal home. “It’s the last thing we can bring into it.”
Chatwood, drummer Jeff Burrows, and singer/guitarist Jeff Martin have been spending six days a week on the new material. They’ve worked up demos for eight songs so far. The finished results could surface by October, though that’s a very tentative date.
“We have 24 tracks running right now at the studio,” says Chatwood. “It’s really turning out well. It’s more raw than anything else we’ve recorded. We’ve included break beats in some songs. I think people are really going to be shocked.” In the meantime, the band has completed its first CD-ROM, which Chatwood says should see the light of day late by September.
“Basically on the CD-ROM you get a little bit of performance and a little bit of video. The interesting thing I find about it is we really go into depth about our instruments, you know, to open up the eyes of the critics. It’s funny, we get to explain ourselves without opposition. It’s a good forum for us.”
The CD-ROM features one unreleased song, Time, written and recorded with British singer-songwriter Roy Harper during the Edges Of Twilight sessions, and a radical overhaul of Sister Awake.
“We had Rhys Fulber from Front Line Assembly do a remix of that song,” explains Chatwood. “We thought that by sending the song to him, we’d have something very, very hard and industrial in return, but he sort of took our whole angle on music and ran with it. He hired an Arabian singer in Vancouver to lay over some background vocals and, well, it’s a pretty interesting remix. Everyone who’s listened to it has been pretty blown away.”
from: 1996/10/25, Edmonton Sun, By Mike Ross
Singer Jeff Martin staunchly defends his interest in all things Middle Eastern.
He says he fell in love with such exotic music listening to George Harrison play the sitar on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and that the Tea Party’s first hit, The River, was inspired by Martin listening to Iranian folk music on Detroit public access radio while he was living in Windsor.
“It’s not a gimmick with us,” he says. “It’s an integral part of what we are as a band, and if that was taken away, it wouldn’t be the Tea Party any more.”
“I don’t understand where the criticism comes in about taking music from other parts of the world. That’s what all composers have done – within their limited range of travelling. The only reason that someone like, say, Wagner didn’t take music from China, maybe, is because he never got there, and there weren’t records available back then.”
“These days, travelling the world is as easy as travelling on the Net or in the record store. The beauty of what we have now is the accessibility to everything. I refuse to let anyone criticize a musician’s interest, or his being compelled to put this interest into his music.”
So there. With that, Martin describes how Tuesday’s show – which will feature The River arranged like, you guessed it, an Iranian folk song, among other Tea Party hits “smacked back” to that part of the world from which they came – is going to “blow your mind.”
If it doesn’t, he says, “I don’t know what the hell can.”
As for the “interactive” portion of the program, computers will be set up in the Rev to view the CD-ROM portion of Alhambra. It’s a 47-minute presentation supposedly including video clips, sound files and information on all the foreign instruments the band uses. (I say “supposedly” because we couldn’t run the silly thing. First it crashed our computer, then it said there wasn’t enough memory and then it refused to eject before crashing the machine again. So much for low-tech meets high-tech.)
But like I said, Alhambra and its little tour is simply a way to tide Tea Party fans (and the band itself) over until the real next album, due out sometime in the early new year.
Calm before storm
The title’s a secret.
“All this is meant to be is the calm before the storm,” says Martin. “It’s like a still life before the tempest comes in, because our new record – and I can guarantee you this – is more aggressive and more in your face than anything we’ve ever done. It’s really, really heavy. It’s just a total evolution of what we are, the whole Middle Eastern motif, a lot of industrial undertones, trip-hop undertones …
“I think anticipation is pretty high for our third record and I hope we’re going to deliver what people are expecting – or not expecting.”
1996/10/25, Edmonton Sun, By Mike Ross
Instead of releasing the overdue third album, which by the way is to be produced by electro freak Rhys Fulber (Frontline Assembly), THE TEA PARTY put us off for the time being with an EP that contains five rarities besides ‘The Grand Bazaar’, known from its predecessor “The Edges Of Twilight”: three accentuated atmospheric acoustic versions of ‘Inanna’, ‘Silence’ and ‘Turn The Lamp Down Low’, a moderate remix of ‘Sister Awake’ and the new, beautiful ‘Time’, which mastermind Jeff Martin composed together with Roy Harper, who also sings the song. But I searched in vain for the supposed 47 minutes of multimedia spectacle, because the silver disc I have in front of me is a normal audio CD and not the CD-ROM promised by the sticker. Hopefully only a false pressing…
RH 117, Marcus Schleuterman
“The Bazaar”, the outstanding instrumental spectacle on “Alhambra” mutates now to “The Grand Bazaar” and is presented in a very oriental way. Also the acoustic versions of “Inanna” and “Silence” contain mainly Middle Eastern parts, which definitely let arise an oriental mood, as well as the “Sister Awake” remix, which is brought in the usual leisurely Tea Party manner. A little bit less well done is the seven minutes long “Time”, which sounds very bombastic, but oftentimes too cheesy. Guest vocalist Roy Harper, a British blues and folk singer, doesn’t exactly provide a vocal highlight, quite the contrary. “Alhambra” is also released as a multi-media CD with some video clips, discography and lyrics of the band.
Visions, Volker Banasiak
Although it is often misplaced as a bootleg item for its frequent unavailability in the US, Alhambra is actually an enhanced CD-ROM EP that doubles as a showcase for alternate — and, in some cases, more revealing — acoustic versions (and one ill-fated remix) of several songs from the band’s 1995 album, The Edges Of Twilight; in fact, the only new material to be found here is “Time,” a collaboration with the band’s close friend and long-time British folk legend Roy Harper (a collaborative favor returned by Martin on Harper’s 2000 release, The Green Man) that, to most Tea Party fans, will probably be worth the price paid alone. However, despite this lacking wealth of new or previously unreleased material, these renovations of past songs shine with such an ineffable light and speak with such ingeniously thick accents about the striking ability and vision of the music here, that the band is still able to create something entirely worthwhile for the die-hard and casual fan alike; the only stumble to be found is on Rhys Fulber’s remix of “Sister Awake,” which is interesting, to be sure, but cannot hope to offer up the passion and power of the original, and thus, is doomed in the steep trap of its own purpose. In stripping down the electric-oriented arrangements for songs like “The Bazaar” (entitled “The Grand Bazaar” in this version) and “Silence,” the band demonstrates just how talented they are in any setting by allowing their abilities in blending extremely strong melody with eastern instrumentation and arranging to flourish away from the high alters of rock and roll. Furthermore, almost everything to be found here continues to prove what a truly gifted — and more importantly, unique — songwriter and lyricist Jeff Martin really is. The enhanced capabilities of the CD contain such things as the videos to “Sister Awake” and “Shadows On The Mountainside,” live performance clips, a complete discography, and other collected amenities for the fans, but it must be noted that many people have had difficulties with getting the enhanced section to work properly on their CD-ROM for whatever reason even though the album, itself, plays without problem. At the end of the day, Alhambra may not win over hordes of new fans, but it is a must-have for anyone already familiar with the Tea Party and an essential entry into the collection of the fanatic.
All Music Guide, Mathias Sheaks