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Devin Townsend - Devin Townsend Project: Ki CD (album) cover

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: KI

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.84 | 292 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
4 stars For this album, DT's wall of sound comes down. This is a departure from Devin's usual sound. Previously, even on his slower songs, Devin's music has had that thick sound, a mix where every instrument is heard, but mixed evenly, it actually gives it a thick sound that doesn't quite seem in focus, but that is what made it so great and different. There was just something a little off kilter.

So now, on this album, that wall comes down, yet there is still that feeling that something is bubbling underneath the surface. Most of the songs on here are mellow, but there is still a lot of power and loudness too. It's just that now, things are more sparse. There is still no doubt that this is Devin though. There is a lot of excellent music on here, I mean real masterpiece material, but there is also some that just drifts on too long.

The album starts off strong and continues that way for the first 7 tracks. The main feeling that Devin was looking for here, other than the sparse mixing, was a lot of tension and release. This really gets utilized quite well for the first part of the album. Dynamics are used quite brilliantly, as is always the case with Townsend, whether that wall of sound is up or down. "Coast" is a great opener and it is obvious that there is a different sound here. "Disruptr" ups the ante even more and is a bit more heavy, but again, without the thickness. This one is more progressive than the first also, and you hear the genius of Townsend's compositional skills. "Gato" is a masterpiece also, and relies more on a hook, but what it does as it builds tension around that hook is amazing. Che Dorval is a guest vocalist on this album for 3 songs, and this one is the first. This one is a real tension builder and this is what Townsend is the best at. It will get your heart racing. I love how he uses Che to build the tension even thicker before he erupts with his angry vocals, by the time he gets there, you are ready to explode as he builds your emotions to this point. "Terminal" is the cool down, or release song that comes next. This one is a beauty.

Next is probably my favorite of the album, "Heaven Send". This one works off the same formula as "Gato" but even more effectively. It starts off much quieter and builds to a much higher climax, again using Che's vocals to build the tension which results in Devin's angry vocals again. This is such an amazing song, I love it. Again, following this is a tension release in the track "Ain't Never Gonna Win..." which is a shorter instrumental, and this works well as a cooling down period. This problem that happens here is that the same atmosphere continues into the song "Winter", which has vocals, but this tends to wander into a flatter performance which lacks in the emotion that we have come so accustomed to. The album tends to suffer at this point, but it seems there is a return to the fun when "Trainfire" starts. This time, Devin is going off in rockabilly territory with a song that was inspired by Elvis' "Mystery Train". Okay, so this sounds fun and the album picks up again. I love the way this starts, it actually has echoes of that wall of sound music that we are used to, but after the verses, which is about the halfway point of the song, the cooling down section starts prematurely. Hmmm....I appreciate that Devin wanted to not become predictable, and I admire him for that, but suddenly, almost all of the spirit is drained out of the song as it becomes minimalistic, almost sounding like Mark Knoppfler playing without any other instruments supporting him. Well, this meanders on for a while, then you get a slight build as Che sings again, and you start to think, here it comes again, that crazy emotion from Devin should start anytime, but then.....it doesn't. Che's vocals are excellent, but it is a let down all the same when nothing comes after it. What starts out as a perfect song just kind of dies.

Following this, there are no more peaks of angry emotion as before, but it's okay, because Devin is being Devin. The tracks "Lady Helen" and "Ki" are still beautiful masterpieces though. Very well written and with interesting melodic hooks, vocals and instrumentals. It is interesting, even without the wall of noise supporting Devin's vocals, that his voice is still just off kilter and out of focus, but strangely enough, we all love that about Devin, don't we? That's what makes his music so intriguing, it's like nothing else and it keeps us guessing, wondering when he will go off the edge. After this, the album ends a little weakly though, with just some okay tracks that don't offer a whole lot, but they are short at least.

All in all, this is a definite excellent addition to anyone's collection, even with it's weaknesses, there are some tracks that are masterpieces. Those songs by themselves are some of the best work that Townsend has done, and that makes me want to give the album 5 stars, but I can't because of the weaker tracks here. But you can't pass this up because the highs on this album are just amazing. Devin does his best work when he shows his anger and bares his emotions. It would be a shame to ignore this album though because of those few weaknesses, the high points of the album are not to be ignored. So, I have to give this 4 stars, but let it be known that some of my favorite tracks are also on this album. Get this one for the masterpieces scattered throughout the album. Is it a good entry point for those wanting to try out Townsend's music? Well in a way it is, just remember that it isn't typical of his usual heavy and thick sound, though you will get a little taste of it here.

TCat | 4/5 |

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