Usually I start an album review with a bit of background information about the artist, band or project, before commenting on the music. This time the first thing I have to mention, is the spectacular way the album is presented. At first the package looks like an old vinyl single, nicely wrapped in a cardboard cover. Inside there is a CD and an A6 size booklet that holds all the information you need as well as all the lyrics, a special card and, as an extra, a nice moustache. Check the artist's Youtube clips to find out why this gadget is added. This special package makes sure this album doesn't end up somewhere in your regular collection and needs to be stored in a special place. To be honest, even without the special package this album needs a special spot, direct for the taking, because when you've played it once, chances are it won't leave your player/pc for a long time. Before I forget, the actual CD has been released with a 300 piece limit, all hand numbered. My personal copy doesn't have a number, but my name on the same spot... which makes me feel rather special.
Okay, before I get sentimental, let's talk music. TDW stands for Tom de Wit; vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, record label owner and nice person in general, known for previous releases and a five star album The Way It Should Be (2013, see review) with his band Mind:Soul. For further information I would recommend to read the interview we had a while ago (see interview). The opener Some Things, Part One shows a different side of Tom than we know from his band Mind:Soul. This, almost acoustic, composition has relaxed but intense vocals, and Adeia's Laura Ter Voorde's violin playing perfectly suits the created atmosphere. The following Chameleon is the first re-made song of the album. Intensity-wise this one sticks close to Mind:Soul compositions, although the keyboards are a bit more prominent and Lennert Kemper's (ReSolve) guitar solo would not suit the aforementioned band, but does perfectly fit this stunning song. Surface Scratching is another nice and powerful composition. This time the background vocals are perfectly blended in with the song and Dimaeon's Sybren Boonstra completely goes bananas on his guitar solos. Heading Back is one of the reasons you should buy this album; together with Dreamwalk, Part II - The Descent and Shock Awakening this is one of the songs that are the extras on the actual CD. By the way, the rest of the album can be downloaded for FREE at TDW's website. Only a fool would pass up on this super offer. Heading Back is a relaxed composition that can be seen as the lead-up to the following Home; Lennert Kemper plays a nice and emotional solo. Home gently turns up the power, and this composition is nicely built with super sounding guitar riffs. During the midsection, the vocals are darker and raspier than on the previous songs, which shows Tom's vocal capacities. Nice guitar solos by Michiel van der Werff (Weltschmertz) and Norbert Veenbrink (Mindshade) finish this composition. Absolute highlight is the emotional and very personal Butterflies; an intense piano ballad which features Hanna van Gorcum's excellent violin playing. Listening to the following Mourning After II, I realize how easily all the different atmospheres on the album go together. After the intimate Butterflies, the pedal goes down and a brilliant duet results. Together with Rosita Reitsma, Tom pushes the song to the stars. How perfectly those voices work together and how wonderful Laura's violin is combined with Sander Stegeman (Sense vs Sanity) heavy guitar parts. The second, CD only, composition is the almost nine minutes long Dreamwalk, Part II - The Descent, which definitely is one of the spectacular highlights of the album. This wacky epic has every element perfectly fitting into each other; metal riffs, progressive synths, dark and moody vocal lines, combined with a capella vocals; and even a section of Grieg's Hall Of The Mountain King has been fitted into this killer composition. Youre going to push repeat after this song', I assure you, you will have the need to listen to this one again. Shock Awakening is the lead-up to Jimmy and sees heavy riffing and a sort of multi-layer of spoken words, preparing you for an ultra-heavy riff that opens Jimmy. This song has been released in a different form on Tom's Up Close And Personal album and can be seen as a political song. Frank Schiphorst (MaYan) delivers some fine, heavy solos to this bass-driven monster. The final Some Things, Part Two, gives us the chance to listen to ten and a half minutes of brilliancy. Tom leads us through this final epic with melodic and symphonic vocals, heavy guitars and super orchestrated parts.
This is one of those albums you immediately fall in love with. There is so much variation in music and styles, you just have to push repeat to listen again and let the music fill you up. A very strong point is the way Tom uses his voice; he knows exactly where his comfort zone is and uses it in a brilliant way. Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward To ! is an album that shows a lot of Tom; the human being, at least...I think he is one.
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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