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CD REVIEW: Devin Townsend Project - Ki

By Levi Canfield

 

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Artist: Devin Townsend Project
Album: Ki
Label: HevyDevy
Website: www.hevydevy.com
Genre: Progressive Slow Rock

Sounds Like: A Perfect Cirlcle meets Mogwai
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 4/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 6/10
Performance Skill: 5/10
Best Songs: Gato, Trainfire, Ki
Strengths; Instrumentation, Production Value, Vocals

Weakness: Low commercial value, Overstays its welcome

 

CD REVIEW:

Newly sober and invigorated, Devin Townsend created his 2009 release, Ki, as a means to channel his new emotions into a creative outlet. Known for being in heavy bands, this solo project is a step aside from his past roots. Combining ambient rock, blues, and metal vocals. This album could be best described as “Metal Muzak”. Recruiting band mates from various parts in Canada, Devin’s new solo project stretches out 13 songs, and an impressive 67 minutes. Despite the length, Ki is only the beginning for The Devin Townsend Project. The album was meant only get the ball rolling on this musical journey.

An expansive album with a very high concept. Admirably attempted by a lone artist’s vision. Written and produced mainly by the sole work of Devin Townsend, this entire album manages to take a challenging look at another extreme on the rock spectrum. Ambient blues rock with grating metal vocals adds a raw feeling to the highly glossed album. With a shifting vocal range thanks to guest vocalist, Che Aimee Dorval, songs like “Gato” are really able to search the expansive space left open by the band. Constantly progressing through the tracks the album manages to subtlety rise from sea level to mountain tops. The candid musicianship though the artists is clear on their ability to reserve so much power to slowly release it in waves. “Trainfire” while going off the albums tracks for a few minutes manages to bring forth one of the best moments in Devin’s singing. His gravelly take on Elvis’s “Mystery Train”/ The sing style country tune rages through the track burning out into the warm lips of Che, who cools it off and lays the track to rest. After the brief derailment, the album picks back on with the final climax of “Ki” building into the last, and strongest breaks on the album. Aptly named, the track “Ki” would be the summation of the entire album “Ki”, which goes out with a burst of fireworks, giving the listener closure on when “it really is going to end”

Unfortunately at the same time they are reserving power, they are forgetting to release enough. This album feels too reserved at points when it should be capitalizing. At other points it feels that it got so far off base that its turned into one big jam session. This couldn’t be clearer than during, “Aint Never Gonna Win”, which actually is a live Jam session recorded by the band. These slow, progressive songs really kill any appeal to the Radio listeners. Not only does Devin shoot his own foot by fleeting his original followers in switching sounds, he also leaves it hard to gain appeal from new listeners. Mixing of the album feels disjointed at times. Never quite staying on one path long enough, before hopping over to something else. Trying to focus on the faint nuances remains a chore at times rather than feeling like a gift.

Fitted better for a coffee shop, than somebody’s car; Ki brings together psyched out blues, progressive rock, and ambient auras into a full album. Loosely fitted at times, Devin’s overall concept remains intact. A strong image to fully create in the atmosphere of 67 minutes. The dark, tense undertones break for quiet melodies and undercurrents to get swept under. With many years of music chops under his chin, Devin Townsend has shown befitting talent for producing an album and switching genre’s without looking like a buffoon (see Billy Corgan). Despite incongruity through out the albums mixing structure, the overall work as a whole piece remains an inspiring endeavor.

Levi Canfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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