There is an inescapable spirituality that permeates the music of The Order of Life and Death, known simply as T.O.L.D. As the brainchild of LA-based, UK-bred producer Daniel Smith, T.O.L.D. creates a lush soundscape out of diverse and vibrant electronic songs that help Smith to find a world of his own. Introspective, cryptic and captivating, T.O.L.D.’s debut album It’s Not About the Witches unearths Smith’s deepest recesses of his mind as he contemplates a few too many things he may not entirely understand. While not entirely intelligible at times, It’s Not About the Witches is an earnest and meditative collection of imaginative electronic music with a certain pop sensibility that is able to shroud any missteps Smith comes across.
Interestingly enough, the most consistent aspects of It’s Not About the Witches are often the most interesting as well. Furthermore, the consistency is also often found in some of the album’s more peculiar choices. Mysticism plays a pivotal role throughout the album, though it manifests itself in many different ways. Tracks such as “The Hierophant” allude to ancient philosophy, while the subsequent track “Live and Let Go” deliberates on magic and witchcraft. Even more concrete themes such as on “Parallel Lines” have an enigmatic air around them, although it begs the question as to whether or not Smith knows about the themes he is contemplating. On “Parallel Lines,” Smith mutters the cringe-worthy lyric “Be my Winona forever, I’ll be your wino forever.” Though misguided at times, Smith is vying to understand everything around him, and his acceptance of uncertainty is bold if nothing else.
Whatever missteps Smith may take lyrically, the album’s strongest aspect is its instrumentation. Hints of gospel-choirs and island steel drums pepper the already vivid electronic elements, making for an album that is equal parts pensive and worldly. Smith has said in the past that even he does not understand his lyrics at times. Emotion certainly is not in short supply on the album, and neither is thought or insight. Smith makes music about himself that resonates with those who are just as lost as he feels at times, and in this day in age, we all get pretty lost regularly. Though T.O.L.D. may not have an exact plan as to where he is going, he is unafraid to try to find his way.
It’s Not About the Witches drops on June 17 via IAMSOUND and is available for preorder here.