Sunday, September 11, 2016

Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence (2016)

I might be a huge Devin Townsend fan, and I always have high expectations whenever the Canadian releases another record, but my hopes for "Transcendence" were even greater than normal. Why so? Well, let us just call it a hunch after knowing all the hard work Devin had to endure to complete "Z²". So it was not too surprising that Devin would go back to basics, back to the music that felt more natural to him.

It is certainly safe to say that "Transcendence" is a very typical Devin record. It is light, epic, and just as magical as you want it to be. However, to my surprise, this album is not something I have heard before in the DTP format. Sure, it has connections to both "Epicloud" and "Sky Blue", but this album has more in common with the early solo releases, mostly "Infinity" and "Terria". It has that effervescent sound that just resonates with my calmer self so well. It is nothing fancy or anything, it is just that magical mood that Devin is so good at that gives me the chills.

I had a feeling this album would be like this after Devin was on a Toontrack stream, where he laid out the demo of the song "Stars" live. As soon as I heard the main riff of the song, I wrote "that sounds like some "Terria" shit right there" on the chat. That feeling became even stronger when the first single, "Failure", was released. This song is one of the coolest first singles I have heard in a long time. Carrying such simple riffs and structures, but still creating such an amazing mood that makes your mind wander off to some kind of a space like place. And then we have the solo, which is beyond awesome, not only because of how it sounds, but also because Devin is a man that rarely does solos that stand out. Needless to say, this is how you present an album.

But Devin should not get all of the cred (even if it is his project), because the rest of the DTP helped out on the album, giving Devin a helping hand with how the album should sound. The chemistry between Devin and the project has grown stronger for each album, and just watching these guys making this music together is just wonderful. A documentary has been uploading episode on Devin's YouTube page, describing every part of the band and how they all are as persons, which does give us an understanding to just how much Devin care for Ryan, Dave, Mike and Beav. Definitely worthy of a look.

Another contributor is Anneke Van Giersbergen, and she does a nice job as per usual, even if she is used much more sparingly in this record, and to be honest, I am okay with that. We have gotten a lot of Anneke in the DTP discography, almost to the part were it gets kind of tiring and predictable, so even if you like Anneke and her voice, it is very easy now to just go "meh" over her being in yet another DTP album. Devin should seriously consider hiring her full time for her services, making her a permanent part of DTP, if he chooses to include her again.

The strongest trait that the album have is its cohesiveness. Every song are connected to each other, while still having their own personalities that makes them stand out, making "Transcendence" a really colorful album. But when you reach towards the end of the album, you might get a chock, because there is one song that does skew off the rails, not enough to make it misplaced, but just enough to surprise you. The song I am talking about is "Offer Your Light", a fast, synth driven song that is so god damn epic and catchy that is ridiculous. What is even more ridiculous though, is that the song literally sounds like something made by The Unguided, only much better. It is kind of funny that Devin sounds more The Unguided than The Unguided, turning their stale style into something grand and epic.

There are just so many things with "Transcendence" that are so interesting, like the re-worked version of "Truth" from "Infinity", the Ween cover "Transdermal Celebration", or the simple fact that this might be one of the deepest records that Devin has presented us with. The song roster is incredibly strong (even if some of them drag out for some time), and the performance is straight from the heart. You can truly tell that Devin has put his heart and soul into this record, taking his time to get everything right. This is hands down my favourite DTP record to date, and I tip my hat once again to the man with the endless supply of brilliant musical ideas.

Songs worthy of recognition: Failure, Stormbending, Secret Sciences, Stars, Offer Your Light

Rating: 9,5/10 Truths

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