TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped
Layered Reality Productions
Release Date: Digital: 4/12/2020 – Physical: 15/01/2021
Running Time: 81:07
Review by Beth Jones
10/10

Professional music performance has always been, on the face of it, a glamorous and grand work of theatre, stage-managed to conceal the chinks in the armour, the cracks in the greasepaint, and the flaws and fears in the body and soul of the performer. And we accept that. We take what we see under the stage lights as reality, forgetting that, behind that performance, is a person. Flesh and blood like the rest of us. As susceptible and scared as we are. Few, though, have the courage to admit that, especially if that flaw is a hidden condition, which may not be obvious to others, on first glance. This is a subject that a lot of us at Ever Metal hold close to our hearts.

Why am I telling you this? Why have I gone into some deep and meaningful spiel so early on in a review? Because this review is about an artist who has laid bare his own biography of illness, in the shape of an album, and a glorious album it is too.

Tom de Wit, better known as TDW, is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, film maker, and all-round interesting chap, from Amersfoort in The Netherlands. His music as TDW, and with the band Dreamwalkers Inc, is essentially really great progressive metal. This new TDW concept album, “The Days The Clock Stopped”, explores the mental and physical battle he had with himself, and medical science, in his late teens, upon being diagnosed with a physical condition that nearly took his life. In a change from his normal path, rather than exploring deeply emotive stories through characters, he drew on his own experience to create this work, which makes it personal, and thus, very, very real.

The album starts with ‘Crashscape’, an instrumental piece which begins as a soundscape of whispered thoughts, a heartbeat, and melancholic piano and single violin. It quickly descends into a pacey and tortured overture, driven by percussion and discordant strings. Is this the point of diagnosis, and the tumultuous emotions that that brings? I think probably so, given the next track ‘Clockstop – Insight X’ explores the first moments after diagnosis, and the fears that brings. The opening line ‘…and all the things I knew are now long gone…’ tells a story in itself.

There’s an interesting pulse that runs through this album. Be it a heartbeat sound effect, a drum rhythm, or an underlying sound effect of medical machinery, it displays many things. Foremost, and most obviously, life. But also, monotony, fear, anger, frustration. And I feel this is explored in track 3 ‘Code Of Conduct’. We hear a distant spoken word uttering ‘…now, can you in your own words describe why you’re here?’ Those of you who have seen many medical professionals will be collectively eye rolling at these words, and the utter frustration of telling another professional your story, and preparing to be looked at with those condescending eyes, and spoken to like your physical condition has somehow removed our power of logical and intelligent thinking.

These frustrations, fears, and physical and mental pain continue to play out through the album, but in such a beautiful and powerful way that it is absolutely impossible not to be drawn in by it, and walk every step of it.

Track 4, ‘Clockstop – Insight 2’, holds another brilliant lyric which speaks so much truth – ‘I can’t remember when this began’. And ‘I can’t remember the life that I had’. A few simple words summing up a feeling perfectly. Another superb track.

Track 5, ‘Sleepless Angels’, begins with a solitary piano, soon joined by synth rhythms, again with hints to medical mechanics. It’s in a major key, too, which is a change to most of the album so far. It’s quite tranquil, possibly a lucid dream, with some lovely vocal harmonies, but always with the revisited pulse. It builds in the middle into an epic and surprisingly uplifting melodic aria, with an incredible guitar solo. It comes back down at the end to a solitary piano, and a heart monitor sound effect, which leads us into ‘The Pulse’, a piece that is starkly contrasted to the dreamlike reality of the previous track. Staccato and a minor key control this piece, and the terror is reaffirmed. Tortured vocals, heavy guitar, and thumping percussion soon take over to raise the fear levels, but if you listen carefully, you can still hear the metronomic sounds of the operating theatre monitors.

It’s so hard not to give you a blow by blow of this entire album. But I’ll reign myself in here, for the sake of your sanity, and mine! The album pretty much continues in this brilliant vein throughout. Musically, Tom has a superb voice – tender but crystal clear, with a rich and powerful tone. The guitar work, along with the bass, and vocal harmonies, are intricate and rhythmic, and the percussion is impressive throughout, commanding many cross rhythms, and speed, with ease. For me, the sound of TDW here is Dream Theater at their best, crossed with Devin Townsend, and then some extra twiddles. I don’t have a favourite track. It’s impossible to separate them.

This album, for me, has everything. For a start off, it’s supreme orchestral prog – already a winner. But it’s dark, deep, and meaningful, and musically it is superbly arranged, produced, and played by extremely talented musicians. It’s less of an album of individual tracks, more movements of a complete work, so listening to it in its entirety is a must, as it tells such a story. I absolutely love it, and I have not got a bad word to say about it. I just wish I’d heard it before I wrote my top ten releases of the year review, because it would have been right up there (maybe I can cheat and put it in 2021’s review of the year, as the physical copy isn’t out until January…damn, did I say that out loud?!). Stunning album. And, if you buy the physical copy, you’ll also get a DVD documentary about the making of the album and Tom’s back story that inspired it. I’ll shut up now. Buy it…

TRACKLISTING:

01. Crashscape (instrumental)
02. Clockstop – Insight X
03. Code Of Conduct
04. Clockstop – Insight 2
05. Sleepless Angels
06. The Pulse
07. Clockstop – Insight 3
08. Death And Her Brother Greg
09. No Can Do
10. Clockstop – Insight 4
11. Epilogue – A String Of Repeats
12. All We Could Do (CD Only Bonus Track)

LINE-UP:
Tom de Wit – Lead Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitars, Synths, Orchestrations
Rich Gray – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals (Aeon Zen, Annihilator)
Fabio Alessandrini – Drums (Annihilator)
Remco Woutersen – Cello solo parts

Solo’s per song:

#4 – Marco Sfogli (Solo artist, James LaBrie, PFM & Icefish)
#5 – Daniel Magdič (Prehistoric Animals, Ex-Pain of Salvation)
#6 – Koen Romeijn (Detonation, Heidevolk)
#8 – Chris Zoupa (Teramaze)
#9 – Andi Kravljaca (Bioplan)
#9 – Matthew op ‘t Einde (IDEK.)
#9 – Luca Di Genarro (Soul Secret)
#10 – Norbert Veenbrink (Dreamwalkers Inc)
#11 – Lennert Kemper (Dreamwalkers Inc)

Choir members:

Laura ten Hoedt, Cailyn Erlandsson, Nicole de Ruiter, Iris van ’t Veer, Rikke Linssen, Stan Eimers, Ron Brouwer, Rich Hinks. Abraham Sarache

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.



EMQ’s with TDW

EMQ’s with TDW

Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Amersfoort, The Netherlands based Progressive Symphonic Metal Project TDW. Huge thanks to songwriter, producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, Tom de Wit, for taking part.

What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?

My name is Tom de Wit, I am a songwriter/producer, lead singer, and multi-instrumentalist. I create my own records under the name of TDW.

I have been doing that for 19 years now, and have released multiple solo albums over my career. The music can be described as Progressive Metal with symphonic influences in the broadest sense.

Everything can, and will, happen in my music, and I like taking people on an adventure inside their mind, and emotions, with my music.

Aside from that, I am the lead singer, and main songwriter, for Progressive Metal band, Dreamwalkers Inc. This band originally started as the live band to perform the TDW music in 2016, but has now evolved into its own band, and is now writing its own music. With Dreamwalkers Inc, we try to tell engaging and intense stories through our music, with many twists and turns.

How did you come up with your band name?

The TDW name was something I came up with when I started out, at 14 years old, because I didn’t just want to put my name on the albums. The name, ‘Tom de Wit’, is very… well, boring in The Netherlands, haha!

So, I felt that I needed to abbreviate it, to make it a bit more artistic and open for interpretation. Yes, it’s still my name abbreviated, as it’s my project, in which I write, record, and perform my own music, but it had an extra ring to it.

Also, as time went on, I started thinking about the concept of people who follow, and live, their dreams, and I called those “dreamwalkers”. The TDW abbreviation could also stand for “The Dream Walker”. That solidified the connection for me, as I try to live my life chasing my passions, and dreams as much as I can, in the music that I make.

This also connects to the fact that I call my fans and followers “dreamwalkers” as well. It’s become a term for those that support my creative endeavours, which I use lovingly.

And finally, in 2016, when I formed the live band to play the TDW music, I felt that it needed a specific name as well. So that’s when I came up with Dreamwalkers Inc.

I see a live band as an extension of the music you write and create. Like it’s a machine that performs the music you put inside of it. That is where the “inc” part came from. Almost like it’s an industry of dreams of sorts. I liked that the name, in a way, has many layers and contrasts. Also, the band name Dreamwalkers Inc can be its own thing besides TDW (as it now is becoming), but I like the fact that the fans of both the band, and my music, are connected by the Dreamwalker name.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

I am from The Netherlands, and I live in a city called Amersfoort. It’s a mid-sized city where I was born, and raised, and lived all my life. I love this place because it has all the good city stuff and resources, but it’s not as massive as some other cities are. I like the pleasant calmness that this place has. Regarding the metal scene, we used to have a pretty active hardcore punk and death metal scene, but these days, it’s really just bands doing their separate things. There’s not really an active scene here, and especially in my genre (the weirder and more proggy stuff). I am basically the only one doing it in this place. I am cool with it though.

I think that because I had to get out online, and in the press, etc, to find my fans and promote my stuff, I found a far more dedicated fanbase worldwide then I would find here in the local area. So, in a way, maybe I should be grateful to live in a city that has no scene, haha!

What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

The newest TDW album is called “The Days The Clock Stopped” and was released digitally on 4th of December 2020, through Layered Reality Productions, with the physical copy to be released on 15th January 2021. This is my most personal album yet, and it has become a very intense musical journey of sorts.

It tells about the medical experiences I went through 11 years ago, when I was in and out of hospitals, due to a near-fatal bowel disease. This album explores what it feels like to have your body fail on you, and what that does to your psyche.

It is a very dark and intense album that will leave an impression to those who are willing to open themselves up to it, because it’s real. This is a complete work of nonfiction, in which I lay my mind, soul, and heart, bare for the world to see.

I have a special pre-order for this album, with all sorts of cool stuff like an exclusive t-shirt, hand-written lyric sheets, and even a custom-made song if fans donate enough! Pre-order link: www.tdwmusic.com/shop/

The final goal is to get this record out on vinyl! Right now, we are promoting this record, and the first music video has been released (link below) and more videos are coming.

Video link:

Who have been your greatest influences?

I notice that my music taste evolves over time, so the list gets broader and broader, but some names I will always return to like:

Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Toto, X Japan, Between The Buried And Me, Queen, Protest The Hero, Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Pain of Salvation, Threshold, Tool, Symphony X, Ark, Dream Theater, Metallica, Napalm Death, Rachmaninov and basically much more.

What first got you into music?

Apparently, as a kid, I was always making stuff, and was always creative. And I also sang a lot when I was younger. But I think the moment I consciously chose to become a musician was when I was 13 years old, and I was following my ambitions to become a videogame creator.

At the same time, I discovered Progressive Metal bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X and Pain of Salvation, and that sound, that musical freedom, opened a whole world to me.

I was working on an RPG videogame and needed a soundtrack. And it was when I had to think about that, that I dove into making music with the computer myself. I was just not able to play any instruments, or write music myself, but I figured I could just learn by doing it. So, in a weird way, I worked my way up from being someone who used samples to create orchestral sounding stuff, into the prog metal musician I am now. I walked the weirdest road ever in that regard. But I always had the drive to make the kind of music that inspired me. The videogame creation was then parked to the side, and I started focussing on music fully.

If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?

I have been lucky to have had many great musicians guesting on my albums so far, so I actually already had some star struck moments here and there. But the first one that pops into my mind would be Paul Waggoner from Between The Buried And Me. I would love to have him guest on a song, or maybe write something together with him.

Also, I would love to work with someone like Melissa Auf Der Maur. She made some amazingly artistic and creative works in the past that I admire. Tori Amos comes to mind as well, in that same category.

And finally, working with Yoshiki from X Japan would basically be a dream come true. I will never be a star as big as he is, in his regard, but I would love to sing a song with him playing piano, or actually write like a full-on symphonic metal track with him!

If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Loud Park in Japan. No contest. That is apparently one of the biggest fests, and I know that there is a strong following for progressive and melodic metal acts there. I think my music would fit right in there!

What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?

Do unsolicited nude images count? Haha! No seriously, I don’t get gifts from fans. And that’s fine. They don’t owe me anything. 😊 I actually think it’s already a gift to me that so many people want to hear what I have to sing and play.

If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?

No matter how hopeless things sometimes look, there’s always a moment that things get better. And don’t be afraid to search for help if you need it.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

That would be a tie between Frank Zappa or Freddy Mercury. Both had so much more to give to this world.

What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?

For me, the creative part is the most important thing of being a musician. Writing music is really like conjuring magic in a way. You start with nothing, and then, as you start piecing notes together, something comes into being. That is a magical experience I will never get enough of. That’s why I want to spend my life writing as much music as I can.

The least fun part would be the promoting, and the continuous selling, and the rejection that comes with it. Like, I don’t mind promoting my music of course, but it sometimes feels like you give 3000 percent in everything you do, and still there will be press people out there who just don’t care, or don’t WANT to see it, even if you dangle it in front of their faces. That gets frustrating at times yes. But at the same time, for every person that doesn’t care, I see more and more people discovering my music and actually caring. So, I prefer to focus on the positive. If a bunch of journalists don’t see my music for what it is, but I do get messages from people saying that my music changed something in their lives, or gave them comfort, I think I know what I prefer to focus on. 😉

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

The way “becoming famous” works, I guess. Often, in the industry and business side, it is not about your music, or who you are. Instead, it’s all about who you know, and if someone higher up than you is willing to even acknowledge your existence. I know way too many musicians whose music is amazing, but they are just not heard, because that one promoter or agency is not interested in them. To me that feels unfair. This is partially why I started my own label and try to promote other bands as much as I can as well. If the big names don’t care enough, then I will. 😊

I think the music industry could be more friendly to new sounds and ideas, and also to bands that don’t just fill out the standard genre-formulas. Because now I just feel that a lot of great stuff ends up not being heard.

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

“Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” by Dream Theater.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

I like all media and collect all of these. So, I am not going to choose :P. Every media type has it’s uses. Sometimes I want to sit down and play some vinyl, sometimes I stream music from YouTube or Spotify, and sometimes I have a stack of CD’s next to me for when I am working on stuff. Every medium has its place, I think.

What’s the best gig that you have played to date?

I think that would be the show we played with Dreamwalkers Inc, on the 31st of August 2019, that became our live album, which we released earlier this year. It was a show in a wonderful theatre setting, that really just clicked, and worked. The show is on youtube for everyone to see.

Link here:

https://bit.ly/dwianattfilm

If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?

My day job next to being a musician is actually being an audio/video and web design technician in my own studio. So, if I was ever to stop making music, I would still be making things here in my own studio, I think.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Robin Williams, Frank Zappa, Freddy Mercury, Jim Carrey, John Oliver

I know most of them are dead, but this would be the best night EVER!

What’s next for the band?

For TDW, the next step is to work on the next batch of songs, that will be based on the prompts that I got from the pre-orders. So, in a way, the next album will already happen in 2021! This will be a digital only release though, but it’s gonna be fun to see what I can come up with, based on the input from those that pre-ordered.

For Dreamwalkers Inc, we are now already working on our new album, and that is going to be a concept record, which we will release in late 2021/early 2022. This is still in the writing stage though, so we are taking our time to make it really good.

There is enough going on, that’s for sure!

What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?

You can find TDW at:
www.tdwmusic.com
www.facebook.com/tdwmusic
www.instagram.com/tdwprog
www.twitter.com/tdwprog

You can find Dreamwalkers Inc at:
www.dreamwalkersinc.com
www.facebook.com/dreamwalkersinc
www.instagram.com/dreamwalkers_inc

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I never had these things as we Dutch philistines don’t have Jaffa Cakes. However, judging on what I found on google, I would say CAKE. But that could also be because I like cake?! I AM HORRIBLY UNEQUIPPED TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION, HAHA!

Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.