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

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: GHOST

Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Ghost' - Devin Townsend (6/10)

Finally, a two year saga has been wrapped up for this Canadian musical mastermind. Starting in 2009, former Strapping Young Lad frontman and acclaimed solo musician Devin Townsend set off on reinventing himself with a series of four vastly different albums; a project he would call the Devin Townsend Project. After an atmospheric rock, pop, and symphonic extreme metal album, Townsend has now come to the final installment in what he has stated is the culmination of his musical career. Here it is, the long awaited record 'Ghost', which apprises the man's ambient and most laid back side. While the album maintains the same level of decent quality that the rest of the Devin Townsend Project's output has amounted to, 'Ghost' stands on its own as a very pleasant and easy listen, but perhaps too much so. Although it is a strong piece of new age music, the one tracked nature of 'Ghost' can lead to a fairly numbing experience at times.

Although 'Ghost' is a complete contrast to the previous Project album 'Deconstruction', it works in very much the same way. Sticking to one sense of dynamic and running with it, Devin Townsend uses a very calming, folky, new age mellowness with this; acoustic guitars, eastern flutes, jazzy drum work and ethereal vocal works are set forth to make this the ultimate relaxation album. To some extent, Townsend achieves this. If any word can come to mind here, it is 'soothing'; even Townsend's usually over-the-top vocal delivery is toned down to a soft, gentle croon for this. While the effect is nice for a while, it can get undeniably tedious at times. Especially considering the album's stretched length passing the seventy minute mark, it is very possible to be both relaxed and bored by the album.

My personal favourite from the record may very well be the song 'Feather', which like much of the material on 'Ghost' is quite a drawn out and ambient piece, but it is quick to show the strongest aspects of this side of the man's work. Easily the greatest thing about 'Ghost' is in fact the production; although the songwriting is generally nothing special or particularly inspired, it is clear that plenty of thought has gone into fleshing out each track into part of this otherwordly experience. From Townsend's staple 'wall of sound' effects to incredibly warm vocal harmonies and an amount of detail and nuance that surprisingly rivals 'Deconstruction', 'Ghost' is an intricate piece of music, even if it may lack the sort of songwriting depth and dynamic to keep a listener interested throughout.

Report this review (#455452)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Where to begin with this album. I have listened to every Devin Townsend album repeatedly and am a huge fan but this album threw me for a loop. I originally didn't enjoy it too much and found it to be too soft and too long. After listening to it a few times more though I was in love. Fly the opening track is a track that will tell you of things to come. its extremely soft and relaxing while at the same time getting your attention (especially if you know Devin's other work). Almost every song goes into the next one perfectly. A lot of progressive rock fans may not like this album which is why I rated it four stars instead of five like I had planned. It's definitely not for everyone but I would suggest listening to it multiple times before laying down judgement. It is a great almost perfect album if you give it a chance. so a personal rating of 10/10 but using the star system I can not fairly say this is essential. If you love Devin's other work give it a listen if you have not listened to any of his previous albums go for something else for a "first time listener experience" because this is completely different than anything he has ever put out.
Report this review (#456700)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Devin Townsend's does a Mike Oldfield album. 8.5/10

I've been a fan of Devin's work since Ocean Machine, an amazing album with some great heavy stuff, as 'Seventh Wave', but also long atmospheric tracks, like 'Things beyond Things' and 'Death of Music', one of the greatest Post-Rock songs I ever listend. So when I heard Devin was going for a full album like that, I was really looking foward to!

Is impossible to listen to this album and not think of Mike Oldfield's 'Songs of Distant Earth'. Both share the same relaxed and meditacional "space" sound, whithout ever getting bored. It could be heard as a "background sound" album, but Devins production is second to none, and the album is meant to be heard at full volume, with the low, subtle instrumentation being the hidden gold of the record.

An amazing album that shows Devin's a great all-around composer, works best if listen from start to end, as the individual tracks doesn't stand off when compared to the complete work.

Report this review (#461078)
Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars So Laid Back It's Horizontal

Devin Townsend, the so-called "Mad Scientist of Metal," decided to ditch his persona shortly after his first child was born. Cutting off his trademark skullet dredlocks, ditching drugs, pushing aside rage, he re-emerged with the Devin Townsend Project. Loosely following the course of his transformation, the 4 album work hit a chaotic climax with DECONSTRUCTION. The simultaneously released final album, GHOST, is the downhill afterglow. Combining soothing croons, new age flutes, strummy acoustic guitars, and some Enya electronics, the album is mellow with about 15 L's. And while ambient texture has been part of Devin's style since Ocean Machine, here everything else is stripped away. As a long time fan, I enjoy the change of pace. But it's clearly the weakest piece of work from Townsend I own. Just as Townsend's band Strapping Young Lad was trying too hard to be intense by the end of its run, this album is trying too hard to be its opposite.

There are some nice melodies, soothing textures, occasional clean electric guitars (Devin's clean tone on the DTP has grated on me since KI incidentally), and a fair bit of lilting female vocals. The lyrics are hippy and new agey. Sound boring? It can be. And it treads absolutely no new territory. For anyone used to ambient or even chillout music, there is virtually nothing alarming or surprising on GHOST. But that's not the point. Instead, the album is meant to evoke the scene of expansive contentment. I believe it achieves this goal. And I must admit that sometimes that's what I'm looking for. Furthermore, having a trusted voice delivering the message increases the sense of serenity.

After the crushing chaos and absurdity of DECONSTRUCTION, GHOST makes alot of sense. I'm not sure that it functions quite so well on its own. Unfortunately, I think that the album took a bit of a back seat when Devin decided to release both simultaneously. Some of the more varied tracks recorded for the project were put off, currently to be placed on a "Ghost 2." There are teaser clips that include several of these songs, and I got a promotional 4 track sampler with my pre-order. Several of these left-out tracks are still in developmental form, but their "vibe" is much more interesting to me than the tracks that made the album. Several clearly still point back to other songs in the DTP ("Watch You" includes a mellowed out version of "Stand" from Decon, and "Radial Highway" points back somewhat to "Trainfire.) Apparently Townsend created quite a bit of music in this mood, and I think he would have had enough material to make a very solid 50 minute album. Instead, contrasting DECON seemed to be a bigger priority than making GHOST as focused as it could be.

Though I am being critical of one of my favorite artists, this is a very pleasant album. It IS good. I like it. It just could have been more.

Report this review (#470791)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Devin Townsend drops this album right along the chaotic Deconstruction, and the two albums are opposites for sure. Ghost comes to soothe and still your mind.

The wall of sound production style is not apparent on this release as it is on his other releases, it is also not progressive at all. It doesn't attempt to be, it only wants to clear your mind and set you free - which it accomplishes. The flute played by Kat Epple on the album creates an amazing atmosphere along with the ambient sounds and keyboard sounds, over which Devin's vocals lay. The lyrics are simple but soothing, and Devin conveys the emotion perfectly.

This album makes you feel at peace with the world. 9.5/10

Report this review (#500891)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Devin Townsend has always been one to experiment with different styles in his music, especially in his own Devin Townsend Project. Ranging from crazy extreme progressive metal to pop, atmospheric rock, and now ambient, this project has shown the eclectic and multi-faceted musician that "Hevy Devy" truly is. Ghost, the fourth and final installment in the Devin Townsend Project, is radically different than anything else the man has ever done - even by Devin Townsend standards, this album stands out substantially from the rest of his work. Rather than using rock or metal influences, Ghost is almost entirely based in extremely calming and tranquil ambient/new age - quite a contrast to the wacky extreme prog metal of Deconstruction! This album is filled with lush atmospheres, pastoral instrumental passages, and soothing vocals, topped off with an excellent production and calming soundscapes. Ghost isn't flawless by any means, and I think Devin Townsend could've succeeded a bit more at an approach to ambient music, but this is generally a beautiful album that I'd recommend.

Musically, Ghost is focused on long, drawn-out ambiance, rather than complexity or technical prowess. For the most part, I think Devin succeeds tremendously at creating lush atmospheres and beautiful compositions. The spacey synths, pastoral acoustic guitars, jazz-oriented drumming, airy vocals, and flute passages give the listener a feeling of relaxation, and the light-hearted compositions make the relaxation even more inevitable. Although Devin Townsend's ability to create fantastic arrangements is ultimately the finest asset of Ghost, the songwriting does take a bit of a dive about halfway through the album. It may be partially due to Ghost's insanely long running time - over 70 minutes of music this simple and relaxing is bound to get a bit boring - but it also seems that some of the later tracks lack the memorability of "Fly" or, my personal favorite, "Feather". Ghost feels a bit too drawn-out for my tastes, and occasionally induces boredom towards its second half - something that could've been easily eliminated if the album were trimmed down by about a half-hour. Despite my complaint about the album's running time, the lush atmospheres and crisp production do remain excellent throughout all of Ghost, and keep any of the songs from coming across as completely disposable.

Ghost is probably the definition of an "acquired taste". People who love ambient and new age music will undoubtedly find plenty to love here, but I can't shake the feeling that it feels too drawn-out at times, despite being extremely beautiful and relaxing. Devin Townsend really took a risk with Ghost, and although it isn't perfect, the fact that he ended up creating a very high-quality album is applause-worthy. I wouldn't say this is a good entry point into Devin Townsend's music, but it has enough worth to justify a purchase from any fan of the "mad scientist of metal". 3 - 3.5 stars are well-deserved here. I'm glad I heard Ghost; I'll certainly take it out again when I'm in the mood for a well-produced new age album.

Report this review (#506817)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first thing I want to say is that Ghost has one of the most beautiful covers I've seen and fits the music perfectly. The slipcase is also a pleasure to behold. Now onto what is contained in the album. At first I didn't really care for this album, being much more inclined to Devin's heavier works. I loved Ki, but this was far from that level of intensity as well. This is not an album to pop in while cruising with your friends and blast out your windows (though I would enjoy it just for the oddity of it). It has a very very laid back atmospheric feel, and is super relaxing. I get tired easily while driving so this is not a good album for driving in the car to me. It could do well as background music, but if you want to just stare out the window and relax in your favorite chair, this is a great album for that. I have a preference for the shorter tracks on this one, Texada being the exception. I also really like the beginning Feather which sounds similar to Devy's Ih-Ah, though the rest seems to drift a little too much for my taste. Blackberry, Texada, and Kawaii are my favorite tracks. I would definitely recommend this album more to those who like the mellow side of Devin as that's what you'll get and nothing remotely heavy. I haven't listened to much music in this style but it has opened up my ears, and if you're looking for something fresh check this out!
Report this review (#541223)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

Ghost is one of the very best mellower albums by a metal musician.

Devin Townsend's newest project finds itself to an end with the final chapter 'Ghost', one of the best albums by the musician and the calmest he's ever been. The four albums of the project wanted, as Devin said, to represent each 'side' of him. If 'Ki' is also a mellower effort, 'Addicted' is a heavy but very straight-forward one, and 'Deconstruction' is as wild Avant- Gardish and chaotic as Devin had never been before. But 'Ghost' wanted to represent Townsend's softer, peaceful side, and what a beautiful sight it is.

There are, of course, no traces of any kind of metal: 'Ghost' is influenced by genres such as New Age and a lot of Ambient music too. I dare to say that some vocal melodies are a little reminiscent of Ambient Pop and Dream Pop. If there are any guitars, they are always clean; if they are any drums, they'll mostly be played with jazz brushes, and always laid back completely. The key instruments I hear are the big chunk of synthesizers, flutes, some very light loops here and there, electronics, and the guitars of course. But the vocals I hear are the most magical addition: I always liked Townsend's cleans, but here, they are special, and perfectly go along with the enchanting female vocals. The production is crystal clear, as it was definitely intended to be for creating the atmosphere Devin wanted to capture so much.

'Ghost' is one of the most peaceful and quiet albums you'll ever hear. It is a soothing journey that most fans of the musician wouldn't expect. The atmosphere this album creates, as a matter of fact, is absolutely priceless: You feel like you're on an island, by yourself, without technology, without surrounding people, just nature. This feeling Devin attempted to create has very much succeeded, and like no other album that has attempted to do so. It's great to hear also how even though maintaining pretty much the same concept throughout the album, there is in the music great amount of variation: some melodies are sad, some are ethereal, some are cheerful, some are melancholy. With these handful of moods, I'm happy to say that Devin created out of them a wonderful rainbow of sounds.

There is clear distinction between the first and second half of the album: while the first is more emotive, melodic, and straight-forward, the second half is more Ambient driven, with less vocals, less clear melodies, just pure atmosphere. The delights can be found practically anywhere, from the opener 'Fly', setting a very proper mood for the rest of the album. 'Feather' is a very melancholic, multi part piece, where the Ambience is something indescribable. The title track and 'Black Berry' are somewhat more cheerful and happy, especially the latter, thanks to it's great banjo addition. Then, there are more Ambient focused songs, like 'Infinite Ocean', 'Texada', even though the term Ambient can be used on this one very widely, 'Moonsoon', and the final track 'As You Are'.

An album I thought was going to hate, but I actually ended up falling in love with; a definite must listen for any Devin Townsend, despite being different from every other recording he's done. But it you're a fan of this man, there is no way you can know him without listening to his peaceful other side. One of the great highlights of the year, an album that would be remembered hopefully in the future, as one of the very best calm albums by a metal musician.

Report this review (#587187)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars It wasn't all that long ago when one of my favorite bands released two albums on top of each other that were almost complete opposites when Opeth gave us Deliverance and Damnation. Eight years later, another one of my favorites does practically the same thing and my reaction is no different now as it was when Opeth did it. Many consider it progressive when a band attempts to push out its borders, but I find that there is a cost.

I fell in love with Devin Townsend with Terria, Synchestra and Ziltoid the Omniscient (my favorite). Now with Deconstruction and Ghost, Mr. Townsend leaves behind his normally balanced approach to music by giving us entire albums on the extreme edge of his repertoire. This particular review concerns Ghost, which entirely consists of Townsend's ethereal and ambient styles of music.

Soothing? Yes. Pretty? Yes. What I want in a Devin Townsend album? Not even close. This is the Mamma Bear side of Townsend which just feels too soft and tepid for my taste. While I would agree that there are redeeming prog elements contained in this piece of music, I would never consider this essential nor would I recommend it. (If reading this review put you to sleep, then I have captured the essence of Ghost.)

Report this review (#787061)
Posted Friday, July 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can be said about Devin Townsend that hasn't been said already? He's one of the most prominent figures in modern metal, whether being known for his work with the extreme (and I mean extreme) metal band Strapping Young Lad or for his large body of solo work. Either way, this man is everywhere, and has crossed nearly every boundary in contemporary music while retaining his rock/metal roots.

However, ever since Ki (his first album under the alias "The Devin Townsend Project"), Townsend's music has gradually grown more honest, only rearing the head of his earlier work with the album Deconstruction (released the same day as Ghost). Many fans didn't even know what to expect after such an album like Deconstruction; a record filled with scatological humor and a diverse selection of extreme progressive metal tracks. However, its brother album Ghost is the polar opposite; A new-age/ambient album filled with the most soothing palette of sounds released by Townsend.

Any trace of the metallic wall of sound present on earlier Devin Townsend releases is gone, replaced with Townsend's soothing vocals, an oceanic atmosphere, and some of the softest instrumentation by the man since the quieter moments of Terria. Let's start with the first track, "Fly." Right off the bat, the calm sound of the album immediately makes its presence known. Kicking things off with a beautifully soaring flute, "Fly" sees Devin Townsend reaching for a zen-like effect with his guitar and vocals, creating something truly wonderful. It's as if he's inviting the listener to soar across the mountaintops with him; the synthesizer effects contribute to this atmosphere just as well.

This style continues for the duration of the album... there's no metal, and only a trace of rock in songs like "Feather" or "Blackberry." Speaking of "Feather", that is, HANDS DOWN, one of the best songs on the record if not THE best song on the record. The song, like "Fly", starts out with the lovely flute, yet transforms into something entirely different. This song is over 11 minutes long, but never will you lose your focus on the song. There's always something interesting going on, whether it's in the multiple textural layers present in the instruments or the loose-yet-powerful flow the track exudes.

While we're on the topic of focus, I'll just say this now: This is where Ghost really escapes the pitfall that Deconstruction fell victim to. In Deconstruction, there was lost focus in some of the offerings, and some portions simply felt like they didn't meld well. In Ghost, however, there is an abundance of music to really stay focused in on, even at a daunting 72:45. Even with an album of this epic magnitude, nothing feels tacked on or feels like dead weight; everything serves a genuine purpose and role in the album.

So what do we end up having? We end up having one of the best albums of Devin Townsend's career, and a subdued masterpiece to behold by fans of any genre. Folk? You have it. Ambient? That's there as well. Progressive rock? Definitely there. The biggest departure is certainly the departure from the metal genre, but it shows that Devin Townsend's maturing out of his immature humor of yesteryear and progressing toward bigger things. If this was his intention, then he succeeded wildly.

Devin Townsend Project (for this album):

Devin Townsend ? guitars, bass, vocals, banjo, ambience Dave Young ? keyboards, mandolin Mike St. Jean ? drums Kat Epple ? flute, EWI, bawu Katrina ? female vocals

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic.com)

Report this review (#810300)
Posted Saturday, August 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

Ethereal.

And here we have an example of a mature man hitting a stunning ...

If in Deconstruction Devin was crazy, wild and avant-garde, here in Ghost, his twin brother (both albums were released on the same day), we see quite the opposite. There are no words that do justice to how I feel listening to this magnificent work, because it all comes down to ... peace.

Yes, peace. I never thought that this man, known for his bipolarity, I could evoke a feeling so deep. "Deep Peace" ... the title of this song Devin, one of my favorites of him, sums up my mood with Ghost. Even in Ki he wasn't so serene. In his long (but never boring) 72 minutes it takes you to a long state of meditation and contemplation. No growls, metal, aggressiveness or anything. And I am grateful to Devin through this experience.

In short, this is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in recent times. Mainly because of the slight disappointment I had with Deconstruction, Ghost only tends to prove the character and eclectic genius of Devin. It's like being in paradise. 5 stars.

Report this review (#866255)
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If you were one who followed Devin Townsend's career from early on then no doubt the first instalment of the Devin Townsend Project series, 'Ki', was a surprise. Known for his various approaches to heavy metal, this album took a fairly big step away from what he was known for writing and recording. Yet the next two albums were heavy and loud, 'Addicted' having a strong pop flair but still being intense and 'Deconstruction' being a flagrant and shameless display of progressive metal. However, there was little that could have prepared the listener and fan for 'Ghost'.

Right from the beginning, you know that this is different. Flute! Clean electric guitar. A slow and easy, pretty melody and a song that makes you think of dreamily floating through soft summer clouds or soaking in a light meditative mood in a hot bath. 'Fly' sets the mood of the album but in no way defines it. From 'Heart Baby' and 'Feather' we only begin a journey through various shades and tones of light, beautiful, peaceful music with Devin's soft and lower register vocals, clean electric guitar, Kat Epple's flute and woodwinds, Katrina Natale's beautiful additional vocals, Mike St-Jean's light and subtle drumming, and even some banjo by Devin himself. Dave Young and Devin also provide plenty of synthesizer, sometimes soft and atmospheric, sometimes more like electronic relaxation music. Though iTunes has this album listed as metal, it is only by association with the Devin Townsend name. 'Ki' had its heavy moments. 'Ghost' is light years away from anything heavy or metal.

As with just about any Devin Townsend album, the music journeys through different moods and styles. 'Kawaii' and 'Ghost' give us acoustic guitar and strumming and are a little more upbeat, with 'Ghost' being that kind of song where you know the refrain and can sing it over and over and think it's beautiful and soul stirring without ever considering the rest of the song. 'Ghost' is a refrain of a melody with only subtle variations in the lyrics, a very light, warm spring day on the green grass in the park with the sun above kind of pretty song for wearing a hippy headband and going barefoot. The upbeat feel to the album here gets a bit more boost with 'Blackberry' which has some great folk banjo and guitar and reaches possibly the loudest point of the entire album just at the climax.

The next three tracks move away from the acoustic strumming and turn toward atmospheric electronic synthesizer sounds accompanied by more woodwinds. 'Monsoon', 'Dark Matters' and 'Texada' focus more on the electronic and keyboard side in what could be considered part three of this album's musical journey. 'Texada' is of particular interest to me because it is the name of an island between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, my hometown being just outside of Vancouver. Though it was not inhabited by the Coast Salish peoples, it was frequently visited by them for hunting and fishing. The tracks begins with what I will presume is a Coast Salish man saying something in his native tongue and he later returns as the track winds down, speaking about something which I wish I could understand. The synthesizer in this song at times almost comes across as forceful and strong compared to the rest of the album, almost approaching a pop sound.

'Seams' is a return to the acoustic strumming, even more gentle and a bit melancholy, and then the last two tracks are long, slowly developing pieces with further emphasis on calmness, relaxing and meditative atmosphere, and ambience, including seagulls and waves.

Some people have said that the album seems a little too long, especially some of the tracks over 9 minutes that repeat the same musical theme with little variation. It's true that the flute solo in 'Feather' seems to meander for a while, the keyboard themed passage in 'Texada' seems to go on with little variation for a bit, and the repeated lyrics of 'As You Were' (Money, honey, bloody mary, money, honey, might as well marry the ghost) are iterated once or twice too many for my taste. These are the points that I would say are the only detrimental features of the music on the album, and they are for the most part inconsequential as there are times I don't notice them.

The album is very well done. Devin never comes across as someone who is attempting to do a different style. He just does it and does it well. This is truly a stand out album in his career, though for certain he has a few. But nothing compares to this (I admit I haven't heard 'The Hummer' but I suspect there's not all this flute and acoustic guitar). Wikipedia describes this as New Age, progressive rock, experimental, and ambient. I detect only the faintest hints of any rock and very light rock at that. I would call it progressive music. The above labels tell you pretty much what you can expect to hear. I very much enjoy this album.

Report this review (#1341166)
Posted Tuesday, January 6, 2015 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars This is what Devin Townsend sounds like with the wall of guitar layers taken out, lush, beautiful, soothing, relaxing. You could call it ambient, but it's not minimalism because most of the tracks here are very full and layered. The vocals are similar to the sound you hear in the song "Deep Peace" from his masterpiece album "Terria" but this time instead of one song, you get a full album of music that sounds like this. Some compare it to Enya's sound, and I suppose it is to some extent, but not as much as what others have suggested. The layering effect here is what reminds one of that Enya sound. Others call it New Age-y, but I disagree with this completely, except for the one throw away track "Monsoon" which is the one embarrassing track on here. This, for the most part, is music you have to be in the mood for, but when you are, it is some of the most heavenly music you will find, and it's coming from the same guy that plays music that puts your speakers and eardrums in danger, though always in an immensely pleasing way.

It's true that there isn't a lot of progressive metal here or progressive rock for that matter. But it is inventive and it's some of the best mellow music I have heard in a long, long time. Well produced and orchestrated, it floats along freely, sometimes surprising the listener with a few upbeat passages and songs, like in the title track (after an ambient opening) and "Blackberry" (which also incorporates a banjo and a driving Americana type beat) , but mostly soft with some of the most beautiful harmonics imaginable. Devin still incorporates layers in his vocals and occasionally uses female vocals in there too.

The atmosphere remains through the album, and even though I would rather hear an album from him that utilizes his various types of music because I would rather have variety, I still find this very enjoyable and relaxing. This album is part of a series of albums where Devin concentrates on one style throughout, and, in fact, this was released at the same time as the album "Deconstruction" which is the exact opposite of this album full of noise and over the top metal. Other albums in the series include a more poppier side or more experimental. I would rather hear them interspersed on an album together and then linked together inventively through ingenious composition methods. This is not driving music, and is really at it's most effective if you want to relax to lush soundscapes that really approach early Porcupine Tree instrumentals a lot more than it does new age music. I also hear some similarity to the more ambient works of Ulver, which anyone who has heard them knows that their music is much more inventive than just plain new age music, and that is the case with this album.

Simply beautiful is how to describe this album. Listen to it and let yourself get lost in it's lushness and layers of atmosphere. I can't quite give it 5 stars, because it is missing variety, but it is one of the best atmospheric albums I have heard that concentrates one type of music. 4.5 stars rounded down to 4 because of the variety issue. But I still love this!

Report this review (#1394041)
Posted Saturday, April 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After playing "Deconstruction" on repeat for quite a long time, this album is just so refreshing.

Texture and content wise, this is the complete opposite of "Deconstruction", metal, choir, screams and shouts replaced with flutes, acoustic guitar, oohs and aahs. This is meditative music at its heart, relaxing, sedative, no metal or screams here.

And yet, both albums, though vastly different in sound and style, they both share a common bond, one that almost all Townsend's albums share: depth. Townsend has an innate obsession with sound, so much so that nearly every single one of his albums goes overboard on reverb and echos, enough to drown out an orchestra.

And that is evident here, but in a different form. Heavier albums rely on massively reverbed guitars to echo, to carry on for what sounds like hours. Here, though, the effect DT creates is through the use of absolute subtlety. The flute plays as softly as it can, acoustic guitars pluck gently, singing is soft and caressing, all the while a substantial mellowing soundscape echoes and careens through space and time. Especially in free-flowing music which most of the album is, beating time is irrelevant, and when you create beautiful melodies like Townsend has on this album, you really don't want them to end, and for the most part, they don't.

"Heart Baby" is one such track, where the guitar is the only thing constantly keeping time, and the vocals just provide harmonies. The flute is the dominant voice (and Kat Epple on this album is just fantastic: expressive, passionate, truly soulful playing), and when all else fades out to leave it to "solo", if you will, the atmosphere just turns into a kind of putty for the flute to create its own sonic painting over, with occasional guitar plucks to have a gentle conversation with. The last minute and a half is just stunning. The flute part isn't virtuosic by any means, but it ain't boring either. It rather follows the middle ground, no jarring notes or melodies to disrupt the listener, but also arpeggiates across scales to, in effect, create a chord, something flutes can't do. Rather, with the echo, the arpeggio sounds like a chord, full and rich. Just an absolutely sublime piece of composition.

There are real songs in here, though. "Kawaii" is a beautiful guitar led ballad rather than some take on Japanese slang or anything. "Seams" is a quiet pop ballad laid over top synth drums, and "Blackberry" (a surprise favorite for me) is a trip through a classic Louisiana marshland, complete with a croaking frog backdrop and some delicate plucks on the banjo. The rest of the album though is just sheer ambiance.

After all, this isn't an album designed to hit the Billboard charts. This is Devin Townsend's bipolar disorder at work. Get the anger out on "Deconstruction", relax and soothe on "Ghost. Not only is it a good album overall, but it also again displays the flexibility of Townsend to adapt to many different musical styles and genres. It really is something special though, a nice change of pace from the hectic, almost over complicated world of prog and life in general.

This isn't complicated at all. What this album is is simplicity, distilled. A meditative experience best served chilled.

Report this review (#1450912)
Posted Sunday, August 9, 2015 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Being inspired by the tone and stream of consciousness style of Ghost, I've decided to review this album by Devin Townsend using only adjectives that come to mind while listening.

Subtle. Lush. Sincere. Warm. Sweeping. Cathartic. Beautiful. Meditative. Buoyant. Truthful. Soulful. Healing. Artful. Reserved. Exquisite.

This is one of the most beautiful records in my collection. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a mellow listen with countless layers of lovely sounds to discover. A shimmer of rock energy hides behind the ambient soundscapes, and Devin's lyrics/vocals are amazing and understated. This is hardly the ambient flat-line that some reviewers have described it as; Ghost is a jewel that shines more brightly the closer and deeper one looks into it.

Songwriting: 5 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#1461232)
Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars The metal chameleon Devin Townsend tries it acoustic, new age, folk and above all, very peaceful. A total contrast to Deconstruction released in the same year. The female voice suits the laid down atmosphere of this album. The atmospere is dreamy, sunny and that is the only album during playing which you can even have Thai massage ;) Some of the highlights - flute ending in the track 2, the folky marching and memorable Ghost (unlike most of the tracks here), vocal harmonies in "Blackberry", acoustic and electronica harmony on "Dark Matters", Alan Parsons Project feeling on "Tuxada". Overall a pleasant albeit not memorable work that we're used to from DT.
Report this review (#2045631)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2018 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars And finally, Devin Townsend released his new age album!

If you are not very familiar to Devin Townsend's work, you will surely relate his name to extreme and prog metal and knowing that Ghost is a new age-folk-prog mellow album will surely disconcert you. But if you are a follower of his work, you'll find that Ghost is a coherent and natural release for him, because this style of music can be heard in previous Devin's albums like Ocean Machine, Terria, Synchestra and Ki.

But this time this ambient and chill out Devin's typical elements are varnished by an extra layer of folk melodies, flutes, woodwinds, mandolins and other elements which make this album very special though not really surprising. The first half of the record is fantastic, full of incredible landscapes and enchanting melodies. Sadly, the second half of Ghost is not so compelling, and the formula gets a bit worn-out and repetitive.

Best tracks: Fly (great guitars and vocal melodies), Feather (my personal favorite of the album) and Texada (the best track towards the end of the record with cool and curious western elements)

Conclusion: the final album of the original Devin Townsend Project quadrilogy is a mixed bag. It contains truly great songs in the vein of some past new age experiments of albums like Terria and Ki while it was also some kind of advancement of the excellent 2014 record Casualties of Cool, where Devin reformulated and improved the formula created for this Ghost.

Sadly, its irregularity, specially towards the end, prevents Ghost to achieve a better rating. Nevertheless, a consider it an obligated experience both for Devin Townsend's lovers and new age fans, which again demonstrated that this man is the most versatile and restless mind in modern prog-rock!

My rating: ***

Report this review (#2111946)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2018 | Review Permalink

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