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

DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: KI

Devin Townsend

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.84 | 322 ratings

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Wicket
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The first release of under the "Devin Townsend Project" is also the most unique of Townsend's entire catalog. There's a heavy side that's familiar, but yet it's also a different approach.

"A Monday", the intro, is a perfect example of it. It's just a little guitar ballad, almost sounding Buckethead-like texture-wise, and although it's not much to go by, "Coast", the track it segues into confirms this fact. This album is much more down-tempo, genuinely a much softer album. Much of the song has Devin whispering across gentle plucks of the guitar, a pretty standard drum beat and gentle bell tones here and there. It almost boarders on the shoegaze / post-rock realm. When you listen to it, it even sounds minimalist, as if the song sounds much longer than it actually is, even though it isn't devoid of material or action like minimalist music traditionally is. However, the increasing tension towards the end before it fades out into a neo-classical guitar spot shows a hidden, darker side to this album.

The first of which is evident in "Disruptr". Now we get a much darker, grungier tone, the beat continues to hang back, as Devin's whispers turn raspier, much more serious, more violent. And once again, as the tension builds in the song, the chords get heavier, the screams more prominent, and halfway into the song, the distorted chords make their presence known as Devin is full on screaming, but only for a short while, as the arpeggiated plucks return underneath more of Devin's croons before settling back in the rhythmic dissonant plucking that has accompanied the entire song.

"Gato" essentially continues where "Disruptr' leaves off, except the former is actually a bit catchy, with hints of Nirvana as Che Dorval sings through the chorus, but then Devin turns it up to 11 and essentially repeats the process except with distorted chords at a maximum and screams up and beyond. It's an unusually haunting and yet still captivating track, while easily being one of the heaviest on the album.

"Terminal" then brings it back down to Earth, soft, down-tempo music, almost rivaling the ambiance and simplicity of "Ghost", with the rare beautiful chorus bisecting soundscapes of ambiance, echoing guitars and electronics. Then "Heaven Send" once again ushers in echos of grunge, particularly Soundgarden this time around (with whiffs of Pearl Jam soloing here and there). And with that grungy sound returns the sinister-isms, the growls and whispers underneath consistent but crunching guitar plucks. But it's also much more elaborate than that, with unusual Buckethead-styled guitar solos, and the occasional tension almost building to the top (a la "Deconstruction"). Although just when you expect it to end, Devin (or rather, one of the other musicians) decides to just redo the end, and the whole take and retake is included in the song. Unusual decision from the production standpoint, but I find it interesting, and it gives you another opportunity in the same playthrough to appreciate that punishing ending.

"Ain't Never Gonna Win" is a good break from that punishing track, with a bluesy groove essentially influenced by the previous track and essentially isolated into a jam band track. "Winter" then continues that jam band beat, and then tunes it down a bit to incorporate more of Townsend' subtle singing from "Coast" and "Terminal". Continuing onward, "Trainfire" still retains a bit of that grungy plucking, but instead incorporates a bit of down home, country-fresh cooking, complete with bits of ragtime-y piano and Elvis-esque vocals, and mixes them into his own twisted, heavy metal concoction.

Once again, without making each song sound the same, Devin has created an identity for this album that tweaks the recipe here and there. In general, down-tempo music is the name of the game. The occasional grunge-tastic tracks like "Disruptr", "Gato" and "Heaven Send" keep some meat on the bones, but the rest of the album falls to ambiance and beautiful melodies on songs like "Coast", "Terminal", "Lady Helen", "Ki". It really then feels like a mix between "Deconstruction" and "Ghost", from an album that preceded both of them. Rather unusual, but then again, we ARE talking about Devin Townsend, here. Unusual or not, the sound he concocts with this amazing band on this album is one not to be missed, showcasing both heavier and lighter sides of music that should appeal to all fandoms of prog.

Wicket | 4/5 |

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