Devin Townsend is On Tour for New Album Transcendence



I can’t.

I just can’t. When it comes to Transcendence, a new album set to be released September 9th of this year, the Devin Townsend Project has produced what I feel is some of their best and focused efforts to date into one beautiful trip into consciousness. They’re just the greatest, and when listening to this album I had a hard time starting this article because I just kept going, “damnit! this is awesome… DAMNIT… thisisawesome…”. I have to get out all of my fan-girly giddiness before I can actually envelope you into the layered, huge, weird, hilarious, and goddamn brilliant world of Devin Townsend and his projects and bands. AND THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT IS ON TOUR EEEEEEE

Okay, okay, I am ready to ‘even’ with you guys and gals in musicland now. If you’re unfamiliar, Devin Townsend is a prolific member of the metal, progressive and rock genres having produced, created or worked on over 30 albums. He is known for work as early as the 1990’s as a vocalist on Steve Vai’s record Sex and Religion. He has since brought us bands such as Strapping Young Lad, Devin Townsend Project, Devin Townsend Band, Causalities of Cool, 9 solo studio albums, and contributions to other projects such as Bent Sea and Ayreon.

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The man pictured in the bottom portion is Devin, famous for once rockin’ the ‘skullet’. He no longer sports this iconic look. Sorry, folks.

devin

Ah, here he is now. Much less skullet-y.

Since I’ve outed myself as a petty big fan, I know some of you will assume that I’m going to write nice things, because love is blind and unobjective. On the contrary, I have grown to like Devin Because of his musical journey and it’s a story I connect to for my own reasons. I am aware that not everything he has written strikes everyone the same way. Hey, that’s personal preference! With that being said, Transcendence is an album I liked more than I thought I would.

It is tough to condense Townsend’s large musical career into a few mere paragraphs, partly because of the diversity of his ventures. “Heavy Devy”, the name of his record label and a moniker he is also known by, has something of a signature sound – impossibly huge swells of music, which can only be compared to an atomic bomb of awesome being dropped onto your soul, releasing it from an unknown tension and projecting your mind into the atmosphere. This new album Transcendence is preceded by an 8-studio album effort from the Devin Townsend Project (not to be confused with Devin Townsend Band) which took place over a span of just six years. Transcendence has elements of each album, Devin’s solo and project work on the whole; the operatic, sweeping vocals, heavy but controlled guitar work, and a dreamy quality – but stands out as something different. Transcendence is definitely a Devin Townsend album, built with his defining huge sound, atmosphere and evident thoughtfulness. It feels as though he’s come home in a way, though this album is still proggy, inventive and technical. It is simply beautiful, and each song has a sense of completeness that I missed about some of his previous work. Instead of Frankenstein songs – sweet parts stitched together with other sweet parts – the songs offer more of a complete and directed feel. The instant I listened to the title track “Transcendence” I felt like I was sinking into a warm bath with a cigarette. I can just close my eyes and enjoy the places my mind wanders when I hear this album, and it’s somewhere real and relatable.

The Devin Townsend Project is comprised of:

Devin Townsend on vocals, guitar, synths and ambiance;

Dave Young on guitar, keys, mandolin;

Ryan Van Poederooyen on drums;

Brian ‘Beav’ Waddell on bass;

Anneke van Giersberen on guest vocals;

and Mike St-Jean on keys, synths, and programming.

A video journey of these musicians while making this album can be viewed on Devin Townsend’s Facebook page via Youtube. This 4-part series (4 parts so far anyway) shows a glimmer of the attention to detail and patience it took to make this album. The feel (Townsend’s vision) and scrutiny of each, layered of piece are translated with a surprising effortlessness into organized, ‘steam of consciousness’ melodies. This album is more of a collaboration for the DTProject than the previous releases. The result is a non-thematic album, though that is a style that Townsend is no stranger of thanks to Ziltoid the Omniscient (an album about an alien seeking black coffee to time travel).

ziltoid

Meet Ziltoid. I don’t know what you expected.

For an album with no apparent story, in Transcendence I feel myself being pulled through a journey of awakening and honesty. The music is unquestionably emotional, and with the band’s artistic choices in lyrics and song structure tell a compelling story. A listen to one of the first releases “Failure” brings swaths of sorrow, longing, hope and epiphany all in the course of 5:57. The creative drum work here does a really nice job of driving the intensity through these emotions. There is without question a sense of majesty in his music which this album capitalizes on and does not let go of. Overall, the album leaves me feeling hopeful, without barfing rainbows or unfounded optimism.

Townsend says this of his fourth-coming album (taken from Part 1 of the Transcendence Documentary), “In accordance to how I feel, artistically, which up to this point, I have had a real hard time trying to get across to people without feeling like a fucking lunatic, is this part is supposed to represent this. When it does this melting sound, it is supposed to be the sense that your emotionally going into a place that’s really caustic, and then through the next 10 bars the idea is for it to emerge with a frame of mind that is unwilling to allow those caustic thoughts to take over and then once it emerges, then it’s got a moment of realization and at the end there is a climax and that climax there is conclusion. That’s how I think about music.”

I had the joy of meeting Devin Townsend once at a show in Columbus OH. It was an incredibly small show, and I am sure that my red-cheeked sweaty self was a little too eager to share with him that I thought he was like a modern Phil Spector, a sentiment I was really proud of coming up with. I grew up with a wall-of-sound-loving Mom, and I still have her Crystals and Ronettes albums. That’s what Townsend creates, is a wall of sound. Turns out, I am not the only person who thinks of his music that way, which I discovered  after reading about him to complete this article with correct facts and figures. It’s not hard to draw that conclusion when you hear his music catalog. Anyway… perhaps I shouldn’t compare my music heroes to convicted murderers if I get a chance to meet them. Another in a line of many awkward moments of my life.

devinandme

Guess which one I am.

I digress. Listen to this album for a slice of proggy escapism, and make sure to catch the Devin Townsend Project on tour this fall for this truly smart album.

If you give it a listen, let me know what you think. XoXo Temmie

Photos are credited to Devin Townsend’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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