follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

EMI Music presents
The Tea Party: Illuminations (1983)

"As the colors fade away, my love/As the darkness turns to day, above/Celebrate the one you love."
- Jeff Martin from Certain Slant of Light

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: July 23, 2002

Stars: Jeff Martin, Stuart Chatwood, Jeff Burrows
Director: Floria Sigismondi, Dean Karr, George Vale, Jef Renfore, Curtis Wehrfritz, Tryan George, Ulf Buddensieck

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:00m:39s
Release Date: July 16, 2002
UPC: 801213001194
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-A-B+ C+

DVD Review

Hailing from the waterfront district in Toronto, Canada, The Tea Party were officially formed in 1990. After an independently released debut in 1991, Splendor Solis (1993), their second album and first for EMI Canada, established a hard-edged, multi-textured sound, driven by Jeff Martin's layered guitar work and ethereal, yet empassioned vocalizations, backed by Stuart Chatwood's melodic bass mantras and Jeff Burrows' often tribal rhythms. Evoking reminiscences of 1960's and '70s hard rock bands like The Doors or Led Zeppelin, and imparting an air of psychodelia with an updated form, Splendor Solis grew the band's audience beyond its native Canada, bridging their audience to Europe and Australia. 1995's The Edges of Twilight expanded their sonic pallette with instruments from the Middle East, India and North Africa, with each album since—Transmission (1997), TRYPtych (1999) or their greatest hits compilation, Tangents—adding another layer to the band's sound, including electronica and symphonic elements.

From their earliest video, The River, the complexity of the band's sound is equaled in their visuals: often dark, mysterious and heavily stylized. The imagery is unsettling, yet strangely beautiful, conjuring an abstract surrealism and sense of the dramatic to underscore the heavy, but lyrical sound. The settings are atmospheric, locations often exotic, symbolism abundant, and design artistic, capturing the feel of the music extremely well. Jeff Martin is a natural front man, conveying the tone and dynamics of the material for the camera with a commanding presence.

Illuminations collects fourteen of the band's music videos, covering their major label albums. The disc opens with tracks from Splendor Solis including The River, Save Me and Certain Slant of Light, which was shot in Australia. The hard driving Fire in the Head, the Turkish atmosphere of The Bazaar, Shadows on the Mountainside, which features Martin on harp guitar and Chatwood playing mandolin, and Sister Awake, very much in the vein of the Brothers Quay, from Edges of Twilight follow. The first two videos from Transmission star Martin as an "action figure, rock star," first wading waste deep in frigid water for Temptation, then dangling above a cubical farm of S&M workshops in Babylon. Shot in Paris, Release became the band's first black and white video, and the song has become an anthem for Men Against Violence Against Women. Psychopomp, the final video from the album was shot live in the Chum building in Toronto, home of Much Music, Canada's music video network. The final track, Walking Wounded, was featured on their hits compilation, Tangents, with the video having been made in Havana, Cuba.

For the Tea Party fan, this is a must have collection, and for those who have yet to discover them, a perfect introduction.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is fairly consistent across the video collection. Colors are warm and saturated; blacks deep and defined. Each song has its own look, and all are presented well. Grain is fairly heavy in some of the pieces, but is part of the style. Compression defects are minor, and only a bit of interlace and shimmer detracting from a perfect score.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in three flavors: 2.0 stereo, which is encoded at a noteably low level, plus surround mixes in Dolby Digital and DTS. The surround tracks utilize a lot of directionality, which is effective with the complex structure of the music, bringing out details and instrumentation that would otherwise be less noticible, and creating a truly immersive soundfield. The sound quality is very good, but the Dolby track does tend to smear the image on occasion, and several dynamic points are unnaturally squashed by audio compression. I would also note that this track is LOUD, moreso than the DTS track (encoded at full bitrate), making direct comparisons difficult.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Jeff Martin, Stuart Chatwood, Jeff Burrows
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Behind the scenes footage
  2. Lyrics
  3. Discography
  4. Photo gallery
  5. Audio only option
Extras Review: The disc allows the user to play all the videos in sequence, or select from a chapter list. Selecting an option prompts for language selection and optional lyric subtitles. While this feature is intuitive when playing the entire disc, it becomes annoying for playing the individual selections with no overall preference setting available for all.

Extras include a roundtable commentary from the band for each video. Here they discuss various elements of the songs, from their inspiration to some of the more exotic instrumentation they feature. The group does a good job of keeping the discussion interesting.

A somewhat elusive extra is an 11m:11s feature which takes the viewer behind the scenes on Walking Wounded, starting with footage from the video shoot in Havana, Cuba, and finishing with an in-studio look at how the parts of the song were recorded. Access to this extra is provided through the individual track selection menu, then the audio options screen for the song.

A comprehensive discography is included, covering track listings, release dates, album credits and notes of interest for each release. A biography covers their ten year (at time of original publication in Canada) career, interjected with quotes from the band. A photo gallery presents 14 promo pictures, two per screen.

An audio-only feature allows playback with just a black screen in your choice of 2.0 stereo, or 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS.

Finally, an insert lists credits for each video and album production.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Illuminations presents the music and imagery of Canada's The Tea Party in a collection of their video releases. With its multiple audio options, running band commentary, biographical and catalog information it encompasses the definitive scope of their work. Even my nitpicking issues with the interface and audio mastering can't detract from a recommendation for these entertaining and imaginative artists.


Back to top

Microsoft Store

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store