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Devin Townsend - The Hummer CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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3 stars Another musique concrčte from Devin Townsend. Like its predecessor, ''Devlab'', ''Hummer'' is an ambient album. There are differences between the two though. ''Devlab'' could be described as more of a dark ambient piece, and just plain weird. It is one long continuous piece broken into 15 untitled tracks and will keep you awake (not in a good way). ''Hummer'' though, is a calm drone-ish work. It's very quiet (you'll need good headphones here, and lots of quiet in your surrounding environment) and introspective. There are six tracks that seamlessly segue into the next, and actually have titles this time around. The title track sets the mood for the album, featuring hums that rise and sink in volume in a soothing fashion. ''Arc'' is a bit overlong, beginning with Morse Code and the same hums as before. ''Consciousness Causes Collapse'' features a flute and a soundclip of a reading from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. ''Equation'' is the most audible track here and the shortest, featuring more voices. ''The Abacus'' and ''Cosmic Surf'' are the same; the former featuring some sort of chime; the latter featuring ocean noises.

You have to be in the right mood to listen to one of these tracks, let alone the whole album. It's basically music (or sound) to fall asleep to. It does get a bit boring, but can be rewarding to listen to all the way through, if you can stay awake.

Report this review (#192239)
Posted Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars If ever there was an argument for breaking up the current configuration at PA and allowing bands to fit into multiple genres, the Hummer would probably be it. I can't think of a single album quite as misallocated. There aren't any elements which would suggest to me that the Hummer should be a post-metal album.

I knew full well that this album was one of Devin Townsend's ambient projects and didn't quite fit in with his more imaginative and grandiose works. I think my expectations were set unfairly high by Terria which employs an atmospheric quality as large as the country to which it pays tribute. The Hummer is simple by comparison, and I can see why the man himself just might have wanted to cool off a little. I picked up the Hummer for some serious relaxation music myself, and it does accomplish that much.

Much of this album is at least worthy of a three star rating, and parts of it even higher, but the new age aspects on the latter half of the album completely break the droning relaxation built up on the first half. Consciousness Causes Collapse and Cosmic Surf are egregious. The spoken word stuff is extremely off putting. Especially on Cosmic Surf, because I know it would be the best track on the album is it were a pure instrumental. As a result, the title track and the Arc in their almost imperceptible softness are the best aspects.

You have to know what you are getting into before you pick up the Hummer. The album which it most closely resembles from my listening experience is Tangerine Dream's Zeit. Both are drawn out very calm and highly progressive. For the record, I like the Hummer a little better, but for the reasons I brought up above I can't really score it any higher. I only recommend this album for people in need of very serious calming or have a penchant for new age pseudo-philosophy. I can't really say this is for Devin fans, because it really falls outside the style of his best work. It doesn't fall into completionist territory either though, because it represents a very different side of Devin's artistry. To the right ear, this album could easily be magic where something like Ziltoid might seem just so much grinding.

Report this review (#723101)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars 4.5/10

I have nothing against the ambient music, except for the fact that albums with that kind of sound risk be many boring. Even though this is the fault of Hummer, he still sounds a more "audible" than the hideous Devlab, it has to be the worst of all albuns of Devin.

Well, 73 minutes of sparse sound effects is not for everyone. Normally I do not revise more than twice albums that do not go anywhere. In Hummer can hear the different sounds of waves, some speeches, a flute solo (perhaps the best thing in the entire record), but the rest is more of the same, and more, and more ... if you are not in a reflective humro or looking for sounds meditators will not hear the whole album.

The only thing that makes me happy about Hummer is the fact that now bind Devy did another album with this kind of sound proposal, and sincerely hope it is not an idea to pass by his crazy head again. Now I will listen Ziltoid, which I suppose is a work much better. 2 stars for "mediocre" Hummer.

Report this review (#837827)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars This album is worlds apart from most of DT's other albums and is an entire spectrum separated from any of the Strapping Young Lad albums. This one is completely ambient and utilizes low frequency noises to create atmospheres of mostly electronic processed sounds. Don't expect any rhythm and the vocals here are spoken word or added as effects. As Devin himself said, this album is not for everyone. It was created as a sort of cooling down period for him, and it acts as a very meditative album for sure. It is relaxing and works fine as that sort of album. The soundscapes here approach the same ambience as the ambient droneworks of Bass Communion which is the side project of another excellent prog rock giant, Steven Wilson. The difference is that Bass Communion recordings, at least to some extent, have more of a meaning or direction overall.

These tracks on The Hummer are mostly uneventful, especially the first 2 very long tracks, the title track at over 15 minutes and "Arc" which is over 23 minutes long. Not much happens here, there is no percussion, only long drawn out drones or pitch sounds which build and ebb over their long durations. There are a few other added sounds such as morse code type sounds that add a timely element to the tracks, but don't do much to give it direction. This goes on for way too long. In comparison to the best Bass Communion tracks, at least they tend to have direction, some percussive noises and more variations in pitch. Track 3 on The Hummer is "Consciousness Causes Collapse" which actually has more action than the first 2 tracks starts out with a beautiful flute solo, which eventually gives way to electronc sounds again and a spoken word reading by Leonard Cohen of part of the Tibetian Book of the Dead. This works well enough and adds to the recording, but it is a long, long span to get to this point.

This music flows into a more structured track, the comparatively short "The Equation" which makes for a strong track, even though it still stays with the overall sound, it continues in a direction that was started in the previous track. "The Abacus" actually finally introduces some percussive sounds to the ambience which still doesn't distract from the meditative nature of the album, but actually adds more to the album and it actually becomes as interesting as the best Bass Communion works. Last of all, "Cosmic Surf" starts off interestingly enough, but soon descends to sounds of waves with very little else. Eventually some bad spoken word clips are thrown in talking about corny new age book of life topics and that just seals the fate of the album. Meditative, yes, but except for a few interesting shorter tracks that make up the middle part of the album, this is overly long and not good for much else but meditation. As good as other Devin Townsend albums are, it was expected that at least the ambient works would have been better than this, but overall, this is a disappointment. 2 stars only.

Report this review (#1421614)
Posted Saturday, May 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars "The Hummer" is the eigth full-length studio album by Canadian artist Devin Townsend. The album was released through HevyDevy Records (Townsend´s own label) in November 2006. It bridges the gap between "Synchestra" from January 2006 (released under the The Devin Townsend Band monicker) and "Ziltoid The Omniscient" from May 2007, although Townsend, also found time to release the fifth and final Strapping Young Lad album "The New Black" in July 2006.

Stylistically "The Hummer" is one of Townsend´s out of number ambient/atmospheric releases and as such a follow-up album to "Devlab" from December 2004. Compared to "Devlab", the ambient/drone style of "The Hummer" is a bit less eventful. If "Devlab" wasn´t exactly a pleasant listening experience, at least it was dynamic with both mellow ambient moments and loud abrasive moments of ear torture (there was some tension there). "The Hummer" is more like one long and very dull ambient drone spiced up with some atmospheric synths. It´s predominantly very minimalistic and requires huge amounts of patience to sit through. The short flute part layered with creepy spoken word vocals which open "Consciousness Causes Collapse" is a rare occasion on "The Hummer", where my attention dosn´t wander. The slightly more loud and dramatic "Equation" isn´t enough to make me jump in my seat, but at least it shows an intent to create some dynamics. But after that we´re right back where we started...many, many minutes of slow building ambient drones which go nowhere.

I admit I had a hard time getting through "Devlab" and the idea of that album eludes me, but "The Hummer" is even more of a challenge getting through. It´s 73:27 minutes long, which already is a long playing time for any album, and when it´s an ambient/drone style album, where this little is happening, it becomes an almost excruciating task getting through it. A 1 star (20%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#2942964)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2023 | Review Permalink

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