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Devin Townsend - Devlab CD (album) cover

DEVLAB

Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal


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2 stars I'm gonna melt you guys....

this is the prime objective of Devin on this album, and he achieves it, however, its not a very plesant melting...

i found this album to be extremly dissapointing, i mean reeeeally dissapointing, im such a big fan of Devin. I thought this was going to be an atmosphric ambiance dream, full of lush keyboards and his signature sustained guitar effects

but no...sadly far from it

from what i can remember, this album contains pretty much no proper keyboards, mainly the occasional drone of various tones, pretty much no guitar, and i think there was 1 short time that dums were present, even tho' they sounded like kitchen pots and pans falling onto the ground repeadidly

i would recomend Devin fans to check this out, just so you can get it out of your system, and know that you've heard it, because otherwise you'll end up like me, collecting Devins entire catalog then eventualy working your way to this awful piece of music,

people who dont know devins music, DO NOT GO NEAR THIS ALBUM, for the love of god...dont

basicaly the whole album is made up of Sound bites recorded by Devin,

ill give it 2 stars, 1 star goes for the somewhat funny im gonna melt you thing, but this gets old, and another star just incase i re-visit this and dont find it AS bad as i thought.....however this is doubtfull

overall the album just made me keep asking myself.......why devin, why?

Report this review (#161141)
Posted Thursday, February 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars You know, I feel bad giving this two stars. I mean, I don't like it at all. That's fair enough. But I know that this stuff does exactly what Devin wants it to do, and it's a marvel in production and recording techniques or something. What we have here is a lot of noise dedicated to imitating a fever-dream. It does, too. It makes you feel kind of woozy and confused, with a touch of nausea now and then.

I have never really been a fan of noise or drone music or whatever all that stuff is. I usually like music with my music. But there is still something inherently fascinating about Devlab. I've listened to it a bunch of times, trying to figure out what it is about this album that keeps making me click on track number one. I subject myself again and again to this hour-long mash of noise and grating ambiance. Obviously, something about it is good, but I can't understand what. Devin put his heart and soul into this project, and I can see where his work paid off.

In all, though, this is an album just for serious fans or noise junkies. You have to be pretty patient with Mr. Townsend to really get much out of this album aside from a headache.

Report this review (#184324)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars So [%*!#]ing weird...

Devin Townsend is usually known for recording and producing metal albums, whether it be the extreme tendencies of Strapping Young Lad, or his laidback, mellow solo albums. Here, Devy's trying something different, aiming for a sound he describes as ''heavy metal ambience''. Now, I've never listened to a drone/ambient effort before, no Eno or Tangerine Dream for me, so I went into this with no prior knowledge of what an ambient piece should sound like. Townsend succeeds in making this album sound weird and strangely enjoyable. From the what-the-hell? humor of the of the opening minute to the ending alarm clock ringing, there are many sound clips strewn throughout (TV shows, speeches, drums, conversations, dump trucks driving over kittens) over the deep hum present through the entire piece; this keeps things fresh and interesting.

Townsend's hour long piece of musique concrète is entertaining, and although I don't listen to it much (only when I'm taking exams), everytime I do, it's a rewarding experience. Not really for the faint of heart.

Report this review (#192238)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Devin Gee, you're doing it wrong!

Not that I have an attraction to ambient music, but this here is far from attractive. Rather, it's bad, inaudible, totally ridiculous. I do not know what the intent of Devin to do this album, but OF COURSE it was not anything serious or committed. I respect his artistic creativity, but am not able to tolerate Devlab. There are interesting moments scattered here and there, but nothing that I hold. I prefer when he's screaming, cursing, playing guitar brutal, but what's here. Is an hour of pure... anything, I'd say. A time wasted by him, and for me to hear this album twice (I hear most often, as I normally do, but I could not). This must be one of the worst albums I've ever heard in my life.

1 star. Return to the commonplace, Devy.

Report this review (#828194)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
1 stars Devin Townsend is quite an interesting man. I remember, awhile back, listening to his work in the band Strapping Young Lad, and even then I thought the sound the band produced was remarkable. Although not a huge fan of his solo work, the album art and strange album name got me hooked into listening.

Honestly, I couldn't make it through. I also felt like I picked up one of the worst albums I've heard in a long time. Alas, I don't feel like reprimanding the noise genre will get me anywhere, because the last thing I want to do is get people upset. Let's just say I'm not a fan (if that wasn't clear enough already). I've never been a huge supporter of this really odd genre of music that very few people that I've seen like. But this album is not just meaningless loud noises compiled together. No, this album has some actually nice industrial ambient songs.

Some of these tracks that I can't seem to understand are such as 'Devlab I', 'Devlab IV' (a particularly excruciating one), and 'Devlab XI'. Some of the tracks are pretty enjoyable ambient tracks, like the third installment, 'Devlab III', and 'Devlab X' are just a few.

I mean, this album isn't a total waste, but I don't really recommend it to anyone. I can respect the idea behind it, but the album's effect is overall so excruciating that I won't bring myself to tell people to go listen to it. If you are a fan of noise, go right ahead! This album is perfect for you.

I do not recommend this album.

Report this review (#1328039)
Posted Tuesday, December 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars 'Devlab' is like a hot melt glue gun - it will melt you...

'Devlab' is an instrumental, experimental, ambient venture that was obviously not crafted for an audience, but for Devin's own personal pleasure in experimenting with his new (at the time) audio technology. This is made clear by the fact there's very little 'music' on the album - it's mostly floaty, seemingly aimless soundscapes and collages of noise - not really marketable or accessible. Hence what we get is quite a personal, intimate but completely insane album, a portal into a lesser known side of Devin's creative mind. They call him the 'mad scientist of metal'. Well if there's any album he's made whereby the title of 'mad scientist' is appropriate, it's this one.

The album has a heavy urban and industrial feel with no hints of nature whatsoever (unlike Devin's other ambient works like Hummer or Ghost), and even if there may be acoustic instruments somewhere in the mix, the whole album is the result of much sound manipulation, thus it's quite electronic and atmospheric. Tonally it's cold, dark and confused, but has personality and uniqueness stemming from the naivety of Devin venturing into the unknown. I would imagine he went into this project with little expectation of the end result and implemented an improvisational approach, using his then current state (doing drugs and living in a "sterile, ugly neighborhood") as an inspirational template. What came about is quite interesting.

This is my interpretation of the album: It is a compilation of the thoughts and experiences of a drugged-up man living in a lonely, dingy apartment within a dystopian future cityscape. He attempts to escape this nightmarish reality through drugs and deep sleep but is unsuccessful - the drugs only enhance his feeling of intense loneliness, adding a dazed confusion to the mix as the dull mutterings of the TV fill the emptiness in the background.

This interpretation may sound silly but that's the vibe I gather from it. In fact, Track 10 features soundclips from the science-fiction film 'Twelve Monkeys', a story built around the rise of a dystopian future and the redundant attempt to prevent it.

Beginning with Track 1, we get the sounds of Devin yelling and shrieking hysterically with tacky music in the background. It's utter nonsense and cannot be taken seriously, which is the point. I would assume this song was placed at the beginning to scare off those who expected something accessible and so the album rewards those who can get past it and aren't afraid of the unknown or unconventional.

Afterwards, for the next few songs, it would appear that Devin's process consisted of an (arguably immature) 'anything goes' approach. By this I mean that any sound he came across, anything at all, that sounded remotely interesting would be crammed into his project and manipulated with a ton of cool effects (this includes the sounds of people on TV, which led me to interpret the apartment setting). What's interesting is that this random, adventurous approach has no rules and there are no creative boundaries. But the end result is that all the 'songs' (or parts I suppose) seem to fit on this album cohesively. There is a distinct and unifying tone - the dark, dreamy, futuristic confusion.

However, some tracks do have more direction and accessibility than the meandering tracks, and these reveal themselves after Track 5:

Track 6 is a little musical with a space traveling theme. Track 8 stands out completely from the rest and is one of my favourites, having a pulsing rhythm with quirky sounds and exotic flavours. I would describe this as music that would accompany a (hypothetical) dystopian-future film by Danny Boyle. Track 12 is nice and twinkly, like a beacon of hope shining above underlying darkness. And then there's Track 13, a hypnotic journey managing to include a level of accessibility but retaining the odd atmosphere that characterises the album. The first half is simply breathtaking. And lastly I must give special mention for Track 4 which is a compelling onslaught of atonal distorted noise, a soundtrack for immense destruction. Many will hate this track, but I like it.

The album ends with Devin waking up to an alarm clock and the music ceasing, only to fade back in as if he's drifting back to sleep. He has always seemed to be fascinated by the concept of the relationship between music and dreams, as presented in the story of 'Ziltoid the Omniscient,' and how he's always inspired to record music that comes from his dreams, (like the songs 'Winter' and 'In Ah!'.)

In the end, 'Devlab' is strange and less approachable than Devin's other ambient album 'Hummer'. I however find 'Devlab' to be more interesting and engaging. To me, the album is criminally underrated or at least under-appreciated. Sure it isn't very accessible and there isn't much 'music', ('music' meaning structure, melody, or general cohesion), but credit is due for the effort that went into its creation. For what it is, it succeeds. But this will be a hard album to rate; it's not exactly musical or very listenable, but it's quality stuff for its genre and what it intends to be. So I guess 3.5 stars rounded to 3 is appropriate.

I recommend this to fans of experimental, avant-garde, ambient music, and to those with open minds, possibly in search of something unconventional or challenging. Or if you want to own music that can scare people out of the room and alienate you from your friends, this is perfect.

If you're curious and willing to give it a go, perhaps begin with track 8 or 13. If they don't interest you then move along.

Report this review (#1328838)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Is this pure garbage or pure art?

The answer for this question is difficult. I am sure that this album is some kind of masterpiece of noise music for some people out there. In the matter of fact, I have read some reviews of people honestly loving Devlab.

Nevertheless, for me this is just a curiosity from the mind of one of my favourite prog artists. It is deep, emotional and very challenging. However, I do not like it. Maybe I do not understand this record, or maybe it is just not my kind of music but I find the hearing of Devlab a dull and unpleasant experience.

The only interesting factor about this record is its connection with other Devin experiments like the ones in Terria and some parts of the Strapping Young Lad records, where he investigated some noises and effects with success. However, an entire album of this kind is just too much!

Best tracks: I cannot really say. None? All of them?

Conclusion: I must say that the mixing and the amount of work that this album has behind it is remarkable and I am sure that fans of noise music can really appreciate it, but I find Devlab just boring, too hard and annoying.

Sorry Devin, but that is just not for me.

My rating: **

Report this review (#2078484)
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
2 stars When Devin Townsend released his Devin Townsend Band album "Accelerated Evolution" in 2003, he gave us a taste of what was to come in the following year with a bonus disc that was included with the Special Edition version of that album, that was called "Project EKO". It was a 3 track bonus EP that had a very ambient feel to it, very much more experimental, and so very much unlike anything Townsend had ever produced before. Well, this experimental, ambient side of Devin was not the end for that particular personality, because his next album was called "Devlab" and would continue with that strange, experimental side, and it was released in 2004. So, how would those fans of the Heavy Devy sound react to this? Not very well. In fact, many of them had never heard music like this, and made it obvious that they were not happy. But, Devin has his experimental side, and he loves to explore all types of music, so, it wouldn't be the last time he would be so adventurous.

On "Devlab", Townsend would be in charge of writing, producing, and "all that", with an occasional, unnamed guest showing up to help out. This album would have 15 unnamed tracks of varying lengths running for just over 1 minute to over 10 minutes, and overall running for almost 66 minutes. It was quite a risk, but this was what Devin would call his "heavy metal ambience" sound.

Devin's strange sense of humor would start off the album with the first track being a short, introductory track where he says "I'm going to melt you guys" in several varying speeds with layers of happy, crazy music playing behind him. From there, the album continues through a collage of noises, loops, odd recordings, manipulated sounds from various sources and the like, it's basically Devin playing around with recording equipment and synthesizers. There is no melodic quality to any of it, but it is a study in sound manipulation and such. There are some very noisy, chaotic passages and some very ambient and minimal sections. Think of The Beatles "Revolution #9" or Frank Zappa's "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet" except that this time, it goes on for over an hour. Yet, there is something intriguing about it all, but it is very difficult to listen to all the way through. The best parts are the ambient sections, the noisy bits are just too harsh and annoying.

Townsend is at his best when he sticks with the more traditional form of music, whether it be heavy metal or country music, he is almost always in top form. But this noise just doesn't have much in the way of entertainment value or listen-ability. I can't even consider this an avant-garde classic or an experimental break through, because, in the end, I am sorry to say, that there just isn't enough salvageable material here to even make a single out of. This one is only for completionists or fans, and that's about it.

Report this review (#2277772)
Posted Saturday, November 2, 2019 | Review Permalink

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