Devin Townsend Project

Ki

Written by: EW on 01/07/2009 17:55:39

Trust old Dev to not play by the rulebook. Whether you have ever been a fan of his previous solo works or Strapping Young Lad noone with a smidgen of musical knowledge can question the man's capabilities and his drive to do exactly what he wants. Having folded SYL through a general lack of interest in keeping up the show required to enable the band to carry on successfully, the Canadian maestro has now gone totally insular to release "Ki" - what is described as the first of a four-part 'project' consisting of different sessions musicians to put to music the inner working of the man's peculiar mind. Gone is the 'skullet' of SYL days and in is a sober, almost retrospective style of soft, ambient-like music that encapsulates his desire to move away from the restrictions supposedly placed on him through past endeavours.

Picking the bones out of this one I believe is difficult, and pointless. The approach taken by Devin of hiring musicians with no 'heavy' music experience is an interesting one, and boy does it show. Drummer Duris Maxwell, a 62-year old with a CV including Jefferson Airplane and jams with Hendrix, offers a masterclass of excellent, background drumming. He is pure smooth. Bassist Jean Savoie is equally important in the mix. With Devin's guitar flirting between playing 'sounds' as much as chords and riffs it is often left to Savoie to inject the melody into the songs, and like Maxwell he does it with consummate ease and class. The keys of Dave Young add atmosphere and intrigue when they are used, which I'm pleased to say isn't all the time as usually once the keys start to take over a metal (used in the loosest terms here) record, it is a slippery slope downwards.

This all leaves Mr. Townsend to do the talking. Well, almost all. Ché Dorval, who sounds very similar to Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), adds delightful backing vocals to tracks like "Heaven Send", the album's only track that approaches the 'h' word - where it feels like Devin lets go of some issues, before almost apologetically reverting to the free jazzy groove in "Ain't Never Gonna Win...". And it is this style that dominates throughout. Devin plays his guitar beautifully, more often than not in the bright airy ambient method that is "Ki"'s predominant genre, but that is not to rule out the bluesy solos he releases with sterling professionalism and grace. In "Trainfire" we also get Devin doing a quite delightful impression of Elvis, from the skiffle guitar sound and double bass bottom end to best of all, a crooning Devin bringing to life the King himself.

Yet with all these positive points I'm discussing I still can't decide on the overall quality, and ultimately, mark that unfortunately has to be awarded to an album like "Ki". Plainly long-time Devin fans will love it, and so they should because it continues the tradition of truly unique albums being marked against the name of a tortured genius like Devin Townsend undoubtedly is, but will this make him (m)any new fans? Your average metalhead won't find much to appease their speed-depedent soul, but surely ambient/soft rock/pop fans would appreciate "Ki"? Well I hope so, but seeing as Devin won't be hitting the road to present this music until the fourth installment is released, and I can't foresee any music videos being made the likelihood of it reaching them is sadly low. For what it is, "Ki" offers qualities worth digging for, yet isn't classic material either. You're going to have to make up your mind on this one..

7

Download: Trainfire, Heaven Send
For The Fans Of: Devin Townsend’s music
Listen: Myspace

Release date 25.05.09
Inside Out Music

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