Dreamwalkers Inc is the band project of Tom de Wit from The Netherlands. I’ve come to regard The Netherlands as the epicentre of Prog, not least because ProgPower Europe is held there. Dreamwalkers Inc put on a very nice show there last year. There is such great intensity over there about this genre. People talk about lyrics as if they’re life changing. Although I appreciate the odd killer line, I don’t personally go down that route, being more interested in soundscapes, structures and atmosphere, so I may be at a disadvantage here. Thoughtful Tom has spent 3 years putting this double album together with his army of musicians. The reflected life of prog people is about the expression of emotional states and self-discovery, and that is what we have here. The antithetic affiliation of the title is manifested in the two sections “The Idealist” and “The Cynic”, also designated as the light and dark disc.
I started with “The Cynic”. “The Descent” is a complex but airy affair. I’m not so keen on the high in the range vocals, which are undoubtedly designed to reflect an emotional pitch and appeal. “Aphrodisia” had greater sensitivity. Here the purity of Tom’s voice fuses with the gentle Celtic symphonic sound and other vocal effects. But “Aphrodisia” is not a gentle soul-searching song. Bursting out like a flower blossoming, power and tension emerge, as if Tom is struggling to maintain control of himself. Dark and thunderous drums add menace. The guitar solos are flamboyant. Frantic keyboards convey a sense of urgency and helplessness. “Aphrodisia” is the title track of Dreamwalker Inc’s 2016 EP. Also on it is “Dirge”, a sensitive song with more than a hint of melancholy in a gentle breeze. The cornerstone of “The Cynic” is the twenty three minute “Lest We Forget”. Angry cries go with accompanying chorus and a developing dark symphonic sound. The song goes into darker territory. “Why are you here to torture me?” growls Tom. The drum patters urgently as the song goes into dark rock territory. The prog emotion is there and the mix is one of symphony, growls, keyboard patterns and metal. It’s music and emotion in a heightened state – quite difficult to hook into, I found. For all the adrenaline-pumping nature of the music, I struggled to get into the soul-searching drama, which the multitude of vocal and musical styles promoted. What I did like, as I had on the previous tracks, were Tom’s Green Carnation like clean-voiced sections. Not only does he enunciate his thoughts clearly and in a way that can be digested, but the acoustic and symphonic sections match the mood and develop the soundscape far more vividly and with less distraction than the more frenetic mix which preceded it. “Lest We Forget” is certainly an adventurous and ambitious mini-opera.
The twenty two minute “The More We Remember” starts “The Idealist”. As I listened to the words, it occurred to me that I might do better to just read them instead of trying to absorb them within the framework of the melee of sounds and tonalities. The prog urgency is there. The vocal and musical array is bewildering. I wasn’t sharing the anger or frustration or whatever I was supposed to be sharing. Tom was preaching to himself. Come on Andrew, get into it, get into it, can you? The music and vocals are being delivered with intensity, and here and there, with sensitivity. It’s when the sensitivity comes that it it’s as if the sun had come out and I really appreciated this. After struggling my way through “The More We Remember”, it was a pleasure to be reunited with “Anthem”, an uplifting prog rock song with a very positive energy, which gives me very happy memories of Dreamwalkers Inc’s show at ProgPower Europe last year. My view on “Lovesong” hasn’t changed. It’s nice enough but a bit nothing, so all that remained on this so-say lighter section was “The Ascent” or “Monolith – The Ascent”, depending on which version you look at. A punchy little backing rhythm adds colour to this prog-to-the-core song. I’m not so keen on the choral part, but then I was never a great fan of Therion. Any regularity is broken because, I presume, it’s about the outpouring of expression rather than the continuity of the song. The song is recognisable as “The Descent” on the other section, which kind of balances things up a little.
If I were to add my own third section, I’d call it “The Complexity”. I really liked the clean sections and their sensitivity. Where I struggled was the highly charged, adrenaline-induced sections, which were too complex musically and vocally for my liking. As a listener I like to be somehow involved but this wasn’t always happening. My conclusion was that less would be more. To be fair, Tom is on record as stating that this isn’t an easy-listening experience. So I guess it needs a few listens. I have listened to the album several times, and it has indeed been growing on me. One thing is for sure is that “The Antithetic Affiliation” is ambitious, even by the standards of the weird and wonderful world of prog music.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)