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1 Drifting Apart 4:02 2 Heaven 6:08 3 Between the Lines 3:45 4 101 11:13 5 Bitter Sweet 1:41 6 All Too Late 4:53 7 Torn in Two 4:20 8 The Plan 2:52 9 Crossing the Edge 1:46 10 Last Piece 7:15
Music / Lyrics by Weber, Schumpelt, Sorup, except instrumental pieces: 5&9 by Schumpelt, 8 by Sorup. Recorded / Produced by Tea For Two. Mixed and Mastered by Jochen Sachse & Uwe Schober at "House Of Audio".
Line-up: Stephan Weber - vocals; Michael Schumpelt - keyboards, recorder, synth-bass & drum-programming; Jens Oliver Sorup - guitars
Guest musicians: Katja Schimmele - violin (3&5); Uwe Haass - bass (4); Ruth Sharp - vocals (2,3,4)
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Prologue. Released in the end of 2000, "101" is the second studio album from German band T42, a long-awaited follow up to their debut CD of 1993. Moreover, they have a live album released in 1997, but I haven't heard anything of their early materials.
The Album. "101" is an excellent example of Neo Progressive, - and actually this is a highly important sub-genre, whose best (original!) manifestations lead listeners to comprehend some of the more profound forms of Progressive Music. Tea For Two perform truly original and very tasteful Neo (Symphonic) Art Rock: the melodies have a charming quality to them, driven home convincingly by the vocals of one Stephan Weber. Stephan is an excellent singer and his lyrics are quite literate. As it is, all the vocal-based tracks in the album contain a lot of various, really interesting arrangements, including beautiful interplays between guitarist and keyboardist. While the electric lead guitar work of Jens Oliver Sorup is very good throughout, his purely acoustic piece The Plan shines like a pearl. There are also two other instrumental tracks on "101" - Bitter Sweet and Crossing the Edge. Both these shortest tracks, played by Michael Schumpelt himself, have some chord classical feel, whereas Michael's work in all the vocal-based compositions represent him as a virtuosic keysman. Between the Lines is played more or less mellifluously, often with gentle passages of violin. The album's (longest) title-track 101 is a great song, containing a lot of various themes with regular changes of moods and tempos: from melodious lines, performed mostly by keyboards, to quite diverse and heavy guitar attacks. An outstanding track with superb musicianship in general and with masterly solos from both instrumentalists in particular. The drumming (often manual, as I can guess) is not 'bombastic', of course, but overall, it is quite acceptable - at least.
Summary. Apart from a couple slightly disappointing moments, I see that Tea For Two is really one of a few German Neo-bands that has its own - entirely original style, - unlike Chandelier, Sylvan, et al. Their "101" is a very mature album - not too complex, this work, however, is not fit for those in love only with bright and accessible Neo. Highly recommended for all Neo Proggers with a taste and for most mature Prog-heads as well.
VM. February 20, 2001
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