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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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Kempokid
4 stars The 'Devin Townsend Project' was originally planned to be a set of 4 albums each tapping into a different element of Devin's songwriting, each with a completely different lineup. The albums were to be a soft album, a pop album, the heaviest album that Devin had written, and then a wildcard album. 'Ki' is the first of this series, being the apparently soft album of the lot, although I personally find the term restrained to be one better suited to this, as there are a number of moments in which I definitely cannot call this album light or soft. Despite this, the album is also remarkably cleaner and simpler sounding than basically anything else Devin has written, not utilising the massive wall of sound production used on most of his works prior to this.

The album builds itself around a constantly increasing energy that every time it feels as if there's going to be an extremely heavy climax, it is avoided in a variety of ways, up until 'Heaven Send'. I personally find this structure combined with songwriting to make the first half of the album to be near perfection, balancing between slow building songs and utterly beautiful ones. Both 'Coast' and 'Terminal' are great songs, both being quite simple, focusing much more on displaying how amazing Devin's voice is, along with layering the various aspects of the instrumentation, as is the norm for him, albeit to a much lesser extent. 'Terminal' in particular is interesting, as it feels very much like a precursor to the ambient nature of his album 'Ghost'. The songs that interest me the most on this portion of the album are definitely 'Disruptr', 'Gato' and 'Heaven Send', each having extremely similar structures and rhythmic patterns. 'Disruptr' starts off slow and foreboding, with the vocals almost being whispered, but with the feeling that the song will become something much more. As the first crescendo begins, the vocals become increasingly rough, and the instrumentation becomes louder. I love how once Devin breaks out his growls, rather than being a major focus of the song, the rhythm instead continues, making the moment intense, but nothing particularly powerful, showing off the restraint that the album is built around. I also love how as the second buildup occurs, this time, the vocals hit the final note in an operatic way to once again tone down the energy. 'Gato' is a much more intense song, starting off the same general way, with quiet strums of the guitar and a generally minimalistic sound. Once again, the same technique is used here of continuing the same rhythm even once the harsh vocals make an appearance in order to still have a sense of restraint. I also find Che Dorval to do an excellent job here, being a large reason why this song ends up being so intense. The moment where the album takes a significant turn is on 'Heaven Send', starting off slightly faster paced and with more focus on the percussion. The song sounds quite similar to 'Gato' especially with Che's vocal line being very similar to it, but I do like this more, especially with the constant addition of other elements in the background, building up in a much more intense way. All the energy and anger building up over the past few songs gets released in the last minute and a half, which what is the biggest climax on the album, with layers upon layers of aural bombardment.

Past this point, the album ends up being much more what I originally expected when told that this was to be a light album, with less distinct structure and the music being much more pleasant and smooth, without any sort of intensity to be found. Both 'Ain't Never Gonna Win' and 'Winter' nicely blend into each other, and while nothing particularly stunning, it's still quite pleasant. 'Trainfire' takes a more interesting approach, experimenting with rockabilly, all complete with a pretty great Elvis impression. This song is just brimming with personality and fun, and is definitely one of the higher points on the album. 'Lady Helen' is another pleasant song, but nothing that I'd consider to be great. The same can be said about both 'Quiet Riot' and 'Deamon League', which are really nice to listen to, but nothing all that special. The title track is much more of a standard affair for Devin, having some semblance of his usual wall of sound present, with layers of vocalisations, along with a really nice buildup, all while still sticking to the core concept of the album, all around making it a truly excellent song.

In general, I find this album to be a really interesting one with some clear issues. The biggest one is that while both sides are excellent, they do feel quite different and disjointed, and I find that it leaves the album with a bit of an identity problem, as it tries accomplishing 2 different things. That said, both halves are filled with memorable, great songs, and the album is stunning at multiple points. Overall, while not the best work that Devin has put out, nor one that I recommend anyone start with, I do find this to be a worthwhile listen.

Best songs: Heaven Send, Trainfire, Ki

Weakest songs: Winter, Quiet Riot

Verdict: Each half of the album has a different approach to it, with the first half being this constantly building intensity, while the second half is much quieter and prettier. While both sides are exceptional, this also makes the album slightly disjointed. Despite this, i highly recommend it for those who enjoy Devin Townsend and enjoy some lighter music, as there is quite a bit of it spread throughout.

Kempokid | 4/5 |

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