This four track EP is a taster for Mr Dreamwalker and his band’s forthcoming double album, which will comprise one light and one dark experience. Damnation and Deliverance, maybe? But that’s to come. Mr Dreamwalker is in fact Dutch musician Tom de Wit, whose been actively plying his progressive trade for thirteen years, with releases from 2008 onwards. Tom is a charismatic and clear-minded artist, as I found out when I was fortunate to see Dreamwalkers Inc play an acoustic set at this year’s ProgPower Europe. Most importantly it was a great evening out with friends, but it has also turned out to be useful for this review, as Tom guided us through some of the experiences and thought processes behind his songs. It helped me also to get over my irrational pre-conceived idea that this was all going to be introspective reflection, which can go with prog and to be truthful I don’t personally empathise with.
If you look at Tom’s influences on his own web page, you’ll find that he gives credit to everyone who’s anything in the prog world. I can find similarities with Riverside in the melodic melancholy, and a number of the other referenced luminaries. Lurking in there and the TDW “brand”, which he promotes – ok, I’m not helping by calling him Mr Dreamwalker so I’ll desist – is something that’s not real to me. Now here’s the rub. “Aphrodisia” is real, the song, anyway. The title track opens up the EP, and is a full-blown prog metal-rock adventure. Yes, adventure. The sound samples act as foil for Tom’s sweet voice. The keyboard and symphonic sections helped to expand its horizons further. Unwittingly he appeals to my Celtic roots with a symphonic section, which is made for pipes. For the record Dreamwalkers Inc features a violinist, whose dulcet strains enhance the moments of melancholic mood. But it’s all kept in tow, even when it ramps up into a frantic prog instrumental section. The breath-taking progression, movement, spoken sound samples and vocal harmonisation make this a progressive piece of the highest order. “Aphrodisia” is in some ways for the prog purist but the pleasure lies in being swept along by Tom’s musical imagination.
“Dirge” is at the softer and ostensibly darker end of the spectrum. I remembered this one from the ProgPower concert. It’s a nice, personal song with delicate touches and sensitive delivery with a mix of male/female vocals and discreet symphony, giving a shadowy feel and the sense that there is an inner conversation going on – nicely done. “Anthem” is a strong and energetic mix of rock and prog, erring towards hard prog in its urgency, but most of all it is noteworthy for its unifying chorus – perfect for raising the mood at a concert. In between it all there’s a dynamic aspirational rock song. Given its uplifting nature, it was surprising that “Anthem” was not the final piece. Instead “Lovesong” fills the final slot. It’s a nice enough song, with a melancholic violin section reflecting the overall ambiance, impeccable vocals and sound enhancements. It’s not a song to blow me away, however.
Parts of this EP struck chords in me. Other parts were nice to listen to, but I didn’t find myself being carried away. I appreciated the technicality of it, and very much look forward to finding out where Tom goes with his double album. What I really wish for is a spirit of adventure. The ingredients are here on “Aphrodisia”.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)