Label: Layered Reality Productions
Three similar bands: Ayreon/Enchant/Spock’s Beard

Rating: HHHHHHH (6/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. Fountains
2. Inner Enemy
3. Hope Song I
4. Gratitude Song
5. Hunter’s Eyes
6. Anthracite
7. Another Choice Another Universe
8. Graveyard Boogie
9. Traveller
10. Hope Song II

Tom de Wit - Lead Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitars, Synths, Orchestrations
Rich Gray - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Fabio Alessandrini - Drums

First Draft (2004)
Up Close And Personal (2006)
The Haunts (2008)
Scrapbook (2011)
First Re-Draft (2012)
Music To Stand Around And Feel Awkward to (2014)
Aphrodisia (EP 2016)
The Antithetic Affiliation (2017)
First Re-Draft (2019)

The Day the Clocks Stopped (2021)

Bryan Ramage - Guitar solo on #1 (Ramage Inc)
Linn Liv - Guest vocals on #1 (Cyanide Paradise, Pictura Poesis)
Eric Hazebroek - Guitar solo on #2 (Vetrar Draugurinn)
Ron Brouwer - Guest vocals on #2 (Sacrosanct)
Cathinca Porsius - Flute on #5
Lennert Kemper - Guitar solo on #5 (Dreamwalkers Inc, Elithium)
Lola Damblant Soler - Guitar solo on #6 (Soledad)
Vikram Shankar – Synth solo on #7 (Redemption, Silent Skies)
Michael Mills - Guitar solo on #8 (Toehider, Ayreon)
Morean - Guitar solo, flamenco guitar & palmas on #9 (Alkaloid)
Lucas De La Rosa - Guitar solo on #10 (Solo artist)
Laura ten Hoedt, Iris van‘t Veer, Cailyn Erlandsson, Rania Bailey, Rikke Linssen, Linda van Vugt, Ron Brouwer, Rich Gray, Tom de Wit

Artwork by: Janneke Stam
Produced and mixed by: Tom de Wit @ The Imagineering Suite
Mastered by: Rich Gray @ Gray Matter Audio

Released 2021-11-26
Reviewed 2021-11-14

layered reality

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TDW works fast, this is the second album I write about this year. Record fast production according to the press material I got, but is it record great. The concepts are partly presented by the fans, fans that are also shown gratitude in the song Gratitude Song where the names of several contributors are sung in the middle of the song. A nice gesture. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be mentioned like that, but I had high hopes for this one as I really liked the previous and even bought the vinyl of that one. I am not sure I will buy this one as it doesn’t look as good as the previous and looks is an aspect for me as I mostly collect rather than play the vinyl – The Day the Clock Stopped hasn’t been played in my vinyl player yet for example, I play the digital files a bit though.

Fountains is different from the predecessor in many ways, but familiar in another way. The thing about TDW is that the music doesn’t really fit a frame, it is progressive, familiar, metal, rock, symphonic, growly, whatever you can think of almost. It is progressive and feels unique without really moving into a dissonant noise kind of sound. The sound is great, the vocals are diverse and interesting, passionate. The ideas are flowing. It is like an adventure through space, time, music, and whatever you might imagine. The kind of music I like, it is way too rare that artists dare to think outside established boxes and dare to risk failure like TDW does. But TDW doesn’t fail, this is excellent stuff.

This is the seventh album to get a rating over five this year, one of the seven best albums of 2021 in my ratings, one of few memorable albums from a year that has been mostly about spamming my mailbox in mediocre albums. I believe the music is becoming increasingly generic and for every year the mediocrity levels increase and the best as well as the worst albums are getting ever fewer. Fountains is a welcome exception and albums like it is what keeps me listening when most of the albums I receive rather drains the will to live than brings joy. Fountains is a joyous album with fresh ideas and the musical adventure that I have been hoping for, and the fact is that Layered Reality Productions stands for almost half of this year’s best albums with the previous 6/7 being Aeon Zen that I reviewed a few weeks back.

I don’t think you should miss this one, it is great. I don’t really see any weaknesses, just singing names of fans shows that Tom de Wit and his band thinks differently. And TDW don’t just think differently, they are brilliant at writing captivating songs as well, and fountains certainly deserves a spot on the end of the year top lists and in the record collections. Great stuff, TDW shows that there is still some hope for the music today.