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


Devin Townsend


Experimental/Post Metal

3.77 | 350 ratings

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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.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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