CD Reviews

Devin Townsend Project - 'Ghost' / 'Deconstruction' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 14, 2011    
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It would have been better if the best bits of both albums had been taken and put out on one disc.

As these are both released together, to complete the four album set which also includes 'Ki' and 'Addicted', I have decided to review these together. Being a big admirer of Devin's 'Project' work, but not so much of the heavier stuff such as Strapping Young Lad, I fully expected, from what I had heard previously, to really like 'Ghost' and have a bit of a problem with 'Deconstruction' because, if 'Deconstruction' was like Strapping Young Lad, then Mr Townsend would no doubt be screaming his lungs out and I wouldn't be able to understand a word of it. Bearing that in mind also, I decided to listen to 'Ghost' first. And yes, it was as it said on the label, a really soft and gentle collection of what is best described as Ambient music. Now the thing is, when I was listening to this, it was so gentle that I literally kept nodding off, which is something I never thought I would experience listening to DT. A lot of this album does tend to wash over you and not leave any lasting marks. There are also pieces of music that take me back to the 70s, and opening track 'As You Were' is one of these, parts of this reminding me of David Bedford's 'The Odyssey'. 

Quite often, Devin will come up with something that has dramatic contrast in a song, the heavy up-tempo beat levelling out into gorgeous, symphonic melody, with the big, expansive production sounds being a key part to this. That is not evident on this album, as most of the tracks get to a certain point and stay there. The first track that could be called a song is 'Feather' which is something like 19 minutes in. We then get another three vocal tracks with 'Kawaii,' 'Ghost' and 'Blackberry,' Ghost being the strongest and most memorable of the whole album, and Blackberry being one of those that creeps up on you from behind, which you end up liking without really knowing how or why. And again, sounds of the 70s hit me with 'Monsoon,' (Floyd and Genesis), and 'Dark Matters,'a short track, once again strongly reminding me of David Bedford, and which actually comes over as the build up to 'Texada' which has a really nice vibe to it, and there is a build up in this song. 'Seams' is another relatively short track at just over four minutes before the album comes to an end with 'Infinite Ocean' which at just over 8 minutes is far too long without some DT guitar wizardry.

'Deconstruction', on the other hand, opened up with even more venom than I expected. Devin shouts 'Let's finish this thing,' before a barrage of noise that is 'Poltergeist' attacks your ears. Be warned, do not play this above 5 on your volume control, at least for the first time you hear it, otherwise you will be reaching for the sedatives. And I thoroughly thought my suspicions were confirmed when I heard this, and I was going to hate the whole thing. But Dev is full of surprises and after this initial onslaught about 3½ minutes in, we get 30 seconds of what I love about Townsend's music, as we get a complete contrast of luscious, big sounding chords, before heading back to metal city. Things quietened down again for 'Praise The Lowered,' which reminded me very much of Peter Gabriel, until…., again about 3½ minutes in the whole thing changes. Contrast or what? And contrast plays a big part in this album as 'Stand' is more typical of Devin Project work, not getting too heavy and, for some strange reason, putting pictures of Floyd's marching hammers into my head, although it doesn't sound anything like Floyd. There is some really nice guitar work in here also.

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'Juular' is a really weird track as it sounds like a cross between rock music and something you would hear in a film like 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks.' 'Planet Of The Apes' starts with a really dirty sounding guitar riff in SYL mode, but from 2:15 – 4:00 and 5:39 – 6:35 are those contrasting bits mentioned earlier, that really should not be parts of a song like that. At the risk of quoting too many films here, this conjures up images of The Wizard of Oz, sounding like something the wicked witch of the West would be happy doing. 'Sumeria' continues to remind me of TWOO, with multi-voice sections all performed by the wicked witches nasty little men. And what can you say about a song with a title like 'The Mighty Masterbator? As you can imagine, it's typically Devin with many mood changes, very reminiscent of Frank Zappa, over 16 minutes long and another trip into Bedknobs territory before its climax, (Sorry). 'Pandemic' leaves me not quite sure if Devin does something to his voice here, or Tarja Turanan guests on this. Despite this, it has a little bit too much noise for me sitting firmly in SYL territory So onto the final track 'Deconstruction,' which seems to be paying homage to cheeseburgers, so immediately puts it in the Ziltoid area, which is all about coffee. A large part of this was just too quirky and off the wall for me, until about 7 minutes in when it became gloriously musical again, then it wasn't, then it was. Then there was a quick burp, and it finished, just like that.

At the end of all this I have to say that Ghost is a little too laid back for me, while Deconstruction has some really cool bits, but there is too much of the really heavy stuff, which was, of course, the intention. For me, it would have been better if the best bits of both albums had been taken, smashed together and put out on one disc.

Andy B.

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