The Tea Club - Grappling

(CD 2015, 43:00, Private Release)

The tracks:
  1- The Magnet(6:07)
  2- Remember Where You Were(7:43)
  3- Dr. Abraham(8:11)
  4- The Fox in the Hole(4:45)
  5- Wasp in a Wig(6:16)
  6- The White Book(9:57)

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Grappling is the fourth studio album made by American band The Tea Club. I never heard their previous albums, and the album sleeve left me guessing what kind of music it might be. The artwork looks simple but is somehow an eye catcher. When you fold out the lyric sheet that's in the album sleeve you get to see a complete artwork on the back of it. Very beautifully done!

When I only heard the first ten seconds of the opener track I was immediately hooked! The music itself is powerful progressive rock with eclectic elements and a lot of theme changes, almost leaning towards experimental music. Sometimes it reminds me of Peter Gabriel era Genesis, especially during the energetic moments and when the vocals get extremely powerful. The vocals are great, they are powerful, unadulterated and almost theatrical. It is also a very good production in my opinion, and very enjoyable to listen to. I have the feeling this is some sort of concept album since the lyrics show some kind of correlation, but I'm not sure.

The intro of the first track The Magnet reminds me of Echolyn. The rhythms and melodies are very vivacious and sometimes quite catchy, or even'pleasantly uncomfortable'. The next track Remember Where You Were starts calm and accessible, the organ reminds me of the music the Dutch outfit Solution made back in the day. Later on, the track gets a little inimitable and more powerful. Third track Dr. Abraham starts very heavy, almost haunting. The dark undertones are very present. Halfway during the track there's a quieter moment, but not much later the track gets louder again. The next composition The Fox In A Hole starts very folky and has a more positive vibe in contrast to the previous one. The song is almost five minutes long, but is the shortest one on the album. It is followed by Wasp In A Wig which starts with a grungy guitar but is somehow very calm, it is even very close to soft rock. After two minutes the song opens up, mainly because of the heavy drumming. The final song has the title The White Book and is the longest track on the album. It starts very quietly with a choir, organ and vocals, but after 2 minutes the complete band joins in. The instrumental mid-section is fairylike, but not much later it gets very energetic again. The rhythm of the instrumental outro of the song is catchy.

I know, this music is not meant to be enjoyed by everyone. You really have to appreciate this style of music. This is not music to relax to as there's so much happening and it demands your attention. Too bad I only discovered their music now (early 2016), or else this album would have definitely been in my top 10 of 2015!

***** Iris Hidding (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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