Written by: Kev Rowland
Earlier this year I received a Facebook message from Layered Reality Productions asking if it would be okay for them to send me an album to review. Almost as soon as I responded in the affirmative, Tom de Wit was in contact and we started having a conversation. He asked me if I would mind making some amendments to the band’s listing on ProgArchives, and then one day a video case turned up in the post. I can’t remember the last time I was sent one of these, so was actually quite pleased when I opened it to find CDs inside, one of which is the 2014 album ‘Music To Stand Around and Feel Awkward To’. Tom sent me the booklet, but apologised for not sending the cover, which I then discovered was actually a 7”slipcase which didn’t fit! Now, I haven’t come across Tom before this, which rather surprised me when I realised that he originally started recording material under this name when he was just 14 years old, and is also involved with other bands as well.
The 24 page full colour A6 booklet provides information as to why the album was recorded, lyrics, Tom’s thoughts on each song and details on who was involved. Tom is a multi-instrumentalist, providing lead and backing vocals, guitar, bass, synth, orchestral and drum arrangements, but here he brought in others to help out. These include the likes of guitarists Frank Schiphorst (MaYaN) and Tristan Visser (Majesty) who are provided with the opportunity to go nuts with no constraints. In the booklet it states that Tom provided all music and lyrics, “except for the solo parts and contributed mayhem by guest musicians which they all rote by themselves (I WASH MY HANDS IN INNOCENCE!)”. Apparently it was recorded, mixed and engineered by Tom “I AM NOT A CONTROL FREAK” de Wit (his capitals).
If I had read all this before listening to it I am sure that it would have enabled me to listen even more favourably to this than when I played it, and take it from me that was already right up there! They are categorised on PA as Heavy Prog, and to be honest in many ways that is bang on. The site defines the genre as follows: “Heavy Prog defines progressive rock music that draws as much influence from hard rock as it does from classic progressive rock. In simple terms, it is a marriage of the guitar-based heavy blues of the late 1960s and 1970s – artists such as Cream, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath – and the progressive/symphonic movement represented by King Crimson, Yes and Genesis.” Musically this is a melting pot of bands as diverse as all those above combined with modern symphonic metal, but with strong vocals and a feeling of honesty and presence throughout. It is tight, it is fresh, and overall it is simply bloody great. This doesn’t feel in any like a small limited edition release, which this album was, but as if it had been put out by a major label who had been convinced to spend money on it.
The booklet makes me smile, makes me think that as a listener I have a real connection with Tom and what he is trying to achieve, and the music just makes that grin get ever wider. This is grown up music, refusing to pander to any of the fashions that exist, even within the progressive rock scene, and instead is definitely moving down its own path, to its own beat. Highly recommended, the only flaw being that it took me four years to discover it.
Some Things, Part One // Chameleon // Surface Scratching // Heading Back // Home // Butterflies // Mourning After II // Dreamwalk, Part II- The Descent // Shock Awakening // Jimmy // Some Things, Part Two