And here we have Tom de Wit, a.k.a. TDW returning. With a double disc no less. And there is also a special edition with an added bonus acoustic live DVD. Another change is the inclusion of a band, Dreamwalkers Inc., making this an octet (yes, that is 8 people). Besides probably making every stage seem crowded, I guess there are many benefits for having a band perform your songs. More instruments (violin!) and diversity, more vocals and perhaps even more ideas to enrich your musical concepts.
So where does this leave us? Well disc 1 is called The Idealist, or the light disc. Disc 2 is The Cynic, so the dark side. Every CD holds 4 songs, with one of those being of epic (22 minutes+) proportion. Total play time is over 80 minutes, so you are definitely in for a ride! It’s been a couple of years since his previous release, but if memory serves me right, this sounds a couple of notches better. I also think Tom sounds more confident with his singing now, but that might be imagining on my part.
Since this falls into prog metal territory, y’all know what the genre standards are. And all the boxes are ticked. While this music always requires repeated plays to show its true colours, I think Tom and band deliver in spades. From big, almost operatic parts, to thrashy speed metal, to fragile fragments and everything you could imagine in between. Solo’s in abundance of course, we do want them to show off a bit now don’t we?
All kidding aside, I say hats off to TDW and Dreamwalkers Inc.. Impressive from start to finish and something anyone serious about the genre needs to digest.
To be fair, the full title of this album is: Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To… TDW is Tom de Wit, who you might know from the Mind:Soul release also featured here. So with that pedigree, and with this title, it takes little guessing to understand that we again have a progressive metal album on our hands.
And while Tom is credited with lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, synths and orchestral and drum arrangements, the guest list is still pretty long, so I won´t be naming all 14 of them. Some less obvious instruments are dulcimer, violin and guitar soundscapes. Like with the Mind:Soul album ,Tom sings almost in a singer songwriter style. Because of the layers of harmony vocals, there is still a lot happening in the vocal department, but as we all know, the most busy sections are the regular instruments. They have to deal with the countless time signature changes, breaks, solos and various instrumental parts.
And yet I have no problem listening to this and connecting to the album. I feel Tom is a talented writer and performer that keeps coming up with interesting songs and conceptual ideas. The packaging is also unique. an oversized cardboard sleeve, containing the disk and an oversized booklet that has all the lyrics and explanations on the stories, straight from TDW himself. And all is enhanced by interesting drawings.
Okay, one bit of criticism goes to the drum sound, that is a bit to clinical for my tastes. But as a whole this album works, so Tom and label Layered Reality Productions can be proud of this achievement and I have no problem recommending you go listen to this.