TDW: Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To
I first encountered the music of Tom De Wit earlier this year through his main band Mind:Soul, a Progressive Metal act who, in my opinion, slightly overcooked their conceptual offering The Way It Should Be. However this solo release from De Wit illustrates that possibly this man simply can't do things by halves, for Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To comes lavishly packaged in a 7" single sized sleeve, with a superb A6 booklet containing artwork, intriguing lyric explanations and details of who augments multi-instrumentalist De Wit on his journeys. If this is something that sounds interesting to you then jump to it, for only 300 physical copies of MTSAAFAT, which include the full 11 song track-listing, have been made, the album also available in an 8 track form which is completely free through the label Layered Reality.
However you're not likely to invest in a CD purely on the back of some pretty pictures and insight, no matter how classy or interesting, so rest assured that for those with a penchant for involved Progressive Metal, which runs the gamut from Symphonically driven keyboard rifferola to introspective passages of strings, piano and voice, will find much to engage here. De Wit's vocal style reminds of a slightly less depressive Maruisz Duda (Riverside), which is no bad thing, allowing the lyrics to be delivered with the diversity of aggression, passion and emotion they need. You may be presuming that with all the artistic and visual augmentation at the disposal of Music To… that it must be a conceptual piece; an assumption which surprisingly is incorrect. And yet there's no denying that as a listening experience this album feels far more grand and cohesive than a simple set of 11 (or 8) songs pieced together. In fact, the ebb and flow from track to track is a real strength, the moods created well thought through and realised upon throughout; so much so that I am tempted to go and listen to the 8 track (I'm lucky enough to have the 11) version to see if the same feel and flow is achieved.
Looking at the three tracks omitted from the download, I have to suggest that the near 9 minute "Dreamwalk, Part II - The Descent" is actually one of the strongest on show, the dreamy atmosphere of clean, multi-layered guitars chiming in unison with metallic percussion and De Wit's impassioned vocals, before a Neo-Prog surge of keys and bank of vocals (and even a slightly unconvincing guttural) showing a completely different hand. "Shock Awakening" (which really is just a prelude to "Jimmy") on the other hand is an electro-percussioned outburst which proves, at 1 minute 30, to be quite dispensable, even if it does evoke Riverside circa Anno Domini- High Definition, while "Heading Back" is another short Riverside (although more Second Life Syndrome era this time) inspired prelude, this time to "Home". Together all three tracks do add value, with "Dreamwalk…" especially a persuasive reason, alongside the art package, to upgrade.
Of the main meat on the bone, "Home" itself follows the style of its prelude, although with a little more aggression, as does "Jimmy" to its introduction, although with added grit. Factor in "Some Things, Part I", which introduces the album somewhere between Iron Maiden at their more introspectively Progressive and Mike Oldfield rocking out, the closing "Some Things, Part II", where a similar theme is expanded upon to great effect across ten and a bit minutes, and the multi-chanted "Chameleon", where guitars crash down with glorious abandon and Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To is anything but. Admittedly, what it is, is an album where you have to work hard to get under its skin to fully appreciate the scope of what's been created. However stay the course and you're left with something well worth sitting down and immersing yourself in fully.
Go on, shell out for the full version. You know you want to!
1. Some Things, Part One
3. Surface Scratching
4. Heading Back
7. Mourning After II
8. Dreamwalk, Part II- The Descent
9. Shock Awakening
11. Some Things, Part Two
Added: October 28th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: TDW Music
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