Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Devin Townsend Project - Ki (2009) 70/100.

Originally, I thought Devin Townsend’s ‘Ki’ album was far too sparse and felt too rushed in comparison to the exciting adventure that ‘Addicted’ takes you on. This album is a subtle affair. It doesn’t set out to be what ‘Addicted’ was. In actual fact, it is the exact opposite of that particular album. Initially I had expected the slower, perhaps more meaningful material of ‘Ki’ to wow me but it was the exciting and fun direction of the aptly entitled ‘Addicted’ which had me jumping for joy like a madman. Almost always I will opt for the more atmospheric, slower piece. I’m a huge fan of slow, rather repetitive music, though this album certainly isn’t repetitive, although it is much slower in comparison to the accelerated evolution of ‘Addicted’. I wasn’t expecting find this particular Devin showcase to sound as impotent as I did. It was limp and frail in comparison to the bombastic and energetic affair of ‘Addicted’, an album which is so vibrant and full of life that I couldn’t put it down for a number of months.

It was like a drug, an injection of highly addictive music that was instantly gratifying in almost every way possible. Although there are definitely cracks in ‘Addicted’, the sheer energy and volume of the piece masked those cracks well. ‘Ki’, on the other hand, is a grower. It was almost detestable at first but, slowly and gradually, it builds in stature and becomes almost as huge as ‘Addicted’, but in very different ways. As far as atmospheric expression goes, ‘Ki’ has it all. In comparison to ‘Addicted’, ‘Ki’ is an almost meandering effort on the part of Devin, a musician who I’m used to seeing showboat and act up. His performances are generally very fun and charismatic, but ‘Ki’ is a lot more thoughtful than that and, as I touched upon earlier, a lot more meaningful because of how slowly it becomes a beautiful album whereas ‘Addicted’ blossomed almost instantly. The difference between the two is monumental. Whilst ‘Addicted’ came across powerfully in the beginning, it slowly loses its attraction like a beautiful woman without a brain. ‘Ki’, being the moderately attractive sister of ‘Addicted’, gradually begins to catch your eye because of its wonderful brain, rather than its overwhelming beauty, though in the end it does become a very beautiful album in its own right.

None of the songs feel as pressing as they did on ‘Addicted’. I mean even the song titles were energetic with their exclamation marks and great zest for life and being the star of the show. ‘Ki’ is a lot more subtle, as aforementioned. Even Devin’s vocal performance isn’t as I expected it to be. He’s a very talented musician and vocalist, turning his hand to many a sound and many a genre. Personally, I wouldn’t call this a metal album. I’d say it’s very atmospheric rock, perhaps I’d go as far to describe it as progressive rock. Much like bands such as The Gathering, Devin is able to shift his sound with consummate ease and professionalism. He also seems to enjoy the occasional bout of jazzy instrumentation, as shown on songs like ‘Heaven Send’, which includes a lush section driven by a divine bass and an electrifying solo - an element which resumes Devin’s showboating, though I understand he is a very humble man. This isn’t a theme which consumes most of the records duration, but it does occasionally come to life again, as on songs like ‘Ain’t Never Gonna Win’, a song with lots of attitude and a strange mix of atmospheres with an urban feel meeting-and-greeting an astral element.

He moves between the metallic sound of ‘Addicted’, to the rock based style of ‘Ki’ with charisma. His vocal performance is a clear indication of his intentions on the album. The progression from the debut to the sophomore is incredible. Songs like ‘Gato’ and ‘Heaven Send’ do include Devin’s well known screams, but he combats this by including a sparse female performance relatively unknown musician and vocalist Ché Dorval, a woman with an incredibly soulful voice. Although sparse, her performance adds a lot of character to the song ‘Gato’, a song which is generally sparse in instrumentation. There are, as with most of the songs on the album, occasion bursts of life with really metallic guitars and hard-hitting drums, but much of the material is slow, ponderous and atmospheric. This is achieved mainly through the use of slower, cleaner instrumentation. ‘Terminal’, a beautiful example, begins with a slow drum beat and a clean guitar which uses effects to enhance the atmosphere of the song. Devin eventually comes in with his almost whispered vocals, showcasing what sounds like a deep melancholy behind the music on this occasion.

A number of the atmospheres are aquatic, perhaps nautical sounding. Lots of spacey vibes are given off by the music on songs like ‘Terminal’, through its use of integral programming. In terms of energy and vibrancy, this album cannot compete with ‘Addicted’. The vocal duet of Anneke, the former The Gathering vocalist, and Devin was also unbeatable for me. They’re two of my favourites and I’ll always have a soft spot for Anneke, though I in no way pine over her like a lot of fans of The Gathering do. I would have appreciated this album a tad more if Ché Dorval had more than just a bit-part role. As on ‘Addicted’, the duet of male-female performances worked incredibly well for Devin and, I feel, it would have worked even better on this piece considering the depth of the atmosphere and the soulful vibes Dorval gives off even in only a short space of time. Her magic is worked well within the time she has to use, but her addition could have been so much greater had she been given more of a starring role. ‘Ki’ certainly isn’t as easily likable, or enjoyable as ‘Addicted’, but is well worth in the end, given much time to settle into its routine.

No comments:

Post a Comment