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Devin Townsend - Snuggles - Beautiful Dream CD (album) cover


Devin Townsend

Experimental/Post Metal

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Honorary Colaborator
3 stars The prospect of Devin Townsend doing another yin-yang-style dual release instantly brought back a flood of memories for me, harkening back to his Deconstruction and Ghost projects from back in 2011. But something seemed a bit different this time around. While he marketed The Puzzle as the "chaos" and Snuggles as the "calm", both records actually strike me as two different sides of the same coin - that is to say, The Puzzle isn't really that intense or crazy like Deconstruction was. But seeing as Snuggles would be the Ghost in this scenario, how exactly does it approach the new age/ambient format? Well, imagine if you took out the dynamic instrumentation of Ghost and made the record more homogeneous and formless.

Keep in mind that I mean that in both a (semi-)positive and negative way. Snuggles is an incredibly relaxing and meditative album, giving off the aural equivalent of lying on a bed of clouds. In fact, unless you listen intently, the record will pass by you without much of an impression at all; each song seeps into the next, as if you're listening to one 38-minute track. Sure, there are a few notable moments here and there; "The Ocean" is much more fleshed-out with its shifting dynamics and layered vocals, and "Blue Dot" benefits from the small bits of flute and reverb-laden electric guitar it adds to the soundscape. But taken as an entire experience, Snuggles is very clearly intended to be background music. Most songs are in the exact same key (F), making the songs blend together even more; on top of this, Townsend himself doesn't really do much vocally other than the aforementioned layering, as well as some mellow crooning to drive home the atmosphere of the record. But again, if you're in the mood for easy-listening or meditation music, this will at least fit the bill and give you something pleasant while you try and de-stress. And if there's another thing I'd give Snuggles credit for, it's that it does stay devoted to one singular vibe; anyone looking for a record that unapologetically sticks to a soft, ethereal sound will certainly find it here.

So we arrive at a bit of a conundrum: who exactly should I recommend Snuggles to? If you're familiar with Townsend's more low-key work, then you're already familiar with better albums than this one. Ghost has much of the same calming atmosphere as this, but with much more varied and explorative songwriting. Casualties of Cool had its ambient moments, but combined that with slick country and blues influences that gave it a lot of character. And then you have Ocean Machine: Biomech and Terria, which were near-perfect fusions of crushing metal and introspective melodies. But Snuggles does stand out, in the sense that any form of conventional songwriting has been removed entirely. So if anything, it's much closer to albums like Devlab or The Hummer, just with a little bit of Ghost atmosphere thrown in. But I think that will make this a hard sell to many Townsend fans, as his ambient records have never really seen the acclaim that most of his other projects have. And while Snuggles is a decent enough easy-listening record, the relaxing atmosphere is really all it has going for it; as I stated, there's not much in the way of varied or compelling songwriting like there was on Ghost or Casualties of Cool. Simply put, Snuggles is just a meditation and de-stressor album; nothing more, nothing less.

Report this review (#2650390)
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Snuggles - Beautiful Dream" is the nineteenth full-length studio album by Canadian artist Devin Townsend. The album was released through HevyDevy Records (Townsendīs own label) in December 2021. It was released on the same day as its companion album "The Puzzle".

Stylistically itīs an ambient/experimental release which Townsend have made a few of before ("Devlab" from December 2004 and "The Hummer" from November 2006). As a companion album to "The Puzzle" itīs interesting to compare the two, as Townsend has consciously opted to make the two releases quite different sounding although the material were recorded during the same time. Where "The Puzzle" is a more experimental and diverse ambient recording, "Snuggles - Beautiful Dream" is a much more calm, laid back, and truly ambient release. Itīs almost meditative in its mellow approach. I can imagine this would be music which would be perfect to fall asleep to. The ambient pieces are designed to induce a tranquil mood and bring calm to your nerves and Townsend succeeds in doing that, although at times it all becomes a bit too new age oriented and uneventful (which has the opposite effect on me and becomes stressful).

"Snuggles - Beautiful Dream" is not surprisingly very well produced and sounds incredible, but upon conclusion I think I prefer the more eventful material on "The Puzzle". "Snuggles - Beautiful Dream" is good calm background music or music to fall asleep to, but itīs not really music to listen to and concentrate on to find details. For that not enough happens in the soundscape. Itīs still a pleasant listen and a 2.5 star (50%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#2942966)
Posted Sunday, July 30, 2023 | Review Permalink

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