Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekly Dose of Prog: The Devin Townsend Project - Ki/Addicted

My knowledge and experience with Devin Townsend and his various 'projects' is limited at best. I've only heard a couple of his albums, all from his progressive side, and the only one I actually remember listening to with a 100% assuredly is Ziltoid The Omniscient, and that is ...well, a special case to say the least. So the should-have-been double album of Ki and Addicted will be my return to this crazy individual's bi-polar induced mind. Fare me well.

As a man who has released numerous albums all over the genre spectrum, you never really know what you're getting from Devin Townsend on any of his albums. He's released extreme music as Strapping Young Lad, and various styles of progressive music (including ambient records) under different makes of his name: originally as Devin Townsend, followed by a short reprieve as The Devin Townsend Band, and now currently The Devin Townsend Project. Each name takes on a slightly different style and skill of album released, but my own experience is admittingly limited, something that I hope to rectify over the coming weeks.

The first of the pair, Ki, has moments within previous Townsend projects styles - there are segments of the semi-extreme (especially within the vocals),  and sections that fall within the ambient - all with a progressive backing to tie it all in. I like the jarring effect of the seemingly-opposite styles being jammed in together, it gives the album an unexpected life. You will be cruising along, jamming into the beat when all of a sudden the tempo will pick up and jarring vocals come in for effect. It only lasts ten seconds or so, then it's back to the more mellow sounds. It happens frequently, but not so much that it becomes expected or annoying, just enough to add a layer of depth to the song.
Often times these more aggressive songs are surrounded by very chill, almost-trance inducing tracks, which lull your mind back into an unsuspecting state. "Gato" and "Terminal" follow this pattern, where the first plays with your brain and its expectations, while the other calms you back down. The whole album does this, building you up in the serene before shattering it all with fury, then coming back in with the calm. Surprisingly beautiful, surprisingly brutal, surprisingly good. I think we are off to a good start so far.

Next up is Addicted, and the first thing I notice is that this album has more of an industrial feel to it. Where Ki had the baseline of ambient always just behind the scenes Addicted has the grinding/mechanical feel there instead. It's not an overwhelming theme, it reminds me of Rob Zombie's music, although a tad heavier.
While the predecessor combined styles of ambient and aggression, Addicted does likewise with some tracks being border-line NWOAHM followed directly by calm and light songs that sort of remind me of Japanese metal (especially with the female vocals). The first two tracks, "Addicted!" and "Universe In A Ball!," both are of this heavier style, with nothing slow or light about them, and then are followed directly by "Bend It Like Bender!" which is all light and simple, and "Supercrush!" which is a mix of the two. Townsend apparently likes merging opposite styles together, but with the success he has as pulling it all off, who could blame him?

The first two of a proposed four albums, Ki and Addicted are very good but are different from each other. I like the heavier bits of both more then the ambient/calm sections, but the pair are worthwhile to say the least. I'm looking forward to the next two albums from The Devin Townsend Project, Deconstruction and Ghost, both of which will be released at the end of June of this year. While writing these songs, Townsend said that they all fit within four styles, we've seen two so far and as such I don't know what to expect for the following. Trust in the fact that I will listen to it and I probably will add it to another 'Weekly Dose of Prog'.

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