Devin Townsend Project
Ki


3.5
great

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
May 28th, 2009 | 236 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: HevyDevy mellows out. Sort of.

I haven't heard much off of Ziltoid the Omniscient, but based on the few tracks I have heard, that's probably a good thing. On Ziltoid, Devin Townsend sounded tired, burnt out and fresh out of ideas. I mean, just look at the album's concept. But whatever the case, it's in the past, because in more ways than one, Ki is the opposite of Ziltoid; restrained, not excessive; dynamic, not mechanized, and instead of Drumkit from Hell, you've got Duris Maxwell, a 62-year old veteran of the Vancouver blues scene. Most importantly, Ziltoid probably sucked. Ki most definitely does not.

It's both easy and obvious to talk about how Ki sets out to be a quiet record, but doing so would sell the album short. At points Ki gets quite loud. The distinction is rather one of restraint. Ki gets loud, but it never gets heavy. It is instead an album of peaks and valleys. It unravels at its own pace and for some, this is a flaw, since its pace is one that is sometimes meandering and perhaps a little overlong. But Townsend insists that Ki unfolds as such because it is merely the introduction to a series of four records, with the next two promising to develop in a much more dramatic and heavier fashion. Regardless of that, Ki is a welcomed antithesis to Devin's more notable work. Going into Ki, it's easy to fall into expectations. I myself had been under the impression that Ki was a mostly ambient album. That is surely not the case, as evidenced by “Coast”, a dredg-like number featuring a mostly soft spoken Townsend crooning over a groovy, tight-as-sin bassline. “Coast” succeeds on multiple levels: it is both the best song on the album and a larger metaphor for Devin's newfound restraint. The track, which flies by far faster than I'd like, ends on a slightly industrial note, threatening to rev-itself into Strapping Young Lad territory amidst layered, somewhat angry sounding vocals. It doesn't. Instead it fades alongside Devin's loose, bluesy guitar work, which can be found peppering the songs throughout all of Ki's 66 minute runtime. This contrast between tight and loose (often acted out by Jean Savoie's work on the bass and Townsend's guitar playing), soft and smashing is what carries Ki. Gone is Townsend's trademark wall of sound production, and Ki feels more dynamic as a result. “Disruptr” is in many ways executed like a coffee-house metal track, with it's light aesthetic contrasted by chugging and shouting. Yet while it comes close, it's never quite heavy.

What's obvious is that Ki feels larger than it really is, sometimes to a fault. While it makes a point out of sounding mostly unified (barring the somewhat out of place, Elvis infused “Trainfire”), it definitely takes its time getting the message across. Though it's certainly interesting to note that Coast, Disruptr, Gato, and Heaven Send seem similarly written around a simplistic three or four note pattern, this familiarity could be a little meandering for some. Tracks like “Winter” and “Ki” do occasionally devolve into extended, loose guitar jams, and it's this tendency to get lost within itself that holds Ki back. Nonetheless, Ki is a welcome change of pace for Townsend. This is truly the work of a man stripped of his coffee addiction. It takes it's time, and occasionally it does so quite liberally, but for the most it feels like a cohesive album replete with loose musings. Ché Dorval's, who provides the occasional female vocals, adds a very interesting dynamic to the album and on a track like “Gato” she almost single-handedly keeps it interesting, and Townsend's vocals are nothing to scoff at. From the soft spoken crooning on “Coast” and “Terminal” to the operatic wail that closes “Disruptr”and all the way back again, this is without question the best Townsend's voice has ever sounded. Musically speaking, this is just another notch on his already success-studded belt. It's easy to criticize the separation between the album's largely new-age sounding first half and its sometimes acoustic second half, but it's even easier to recognize the artistic step Townsend has taken. This is HevyDevy at his loosest and most dynamic, and for that, Ki is hard to pass up.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not the greatest review, but something I felt like I should get out. For some reason I can't get the album cover to change.

Waior
May 28th 2009


11461 Comments


Nah, review is great. But you liked this a lot more than your interview implied.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Did you even read the interview?

jingledeath
May 28th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was already in the database under "Devin Townsend". I'm confused

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was already in the database under "Devin Townsend". I'm confused

Yeah, and that was incorrect. It's officially "Devin Townsend Project". I had that one rated, though, as did a lot of others, but a merge wasn't possible and I'd rather submit it under the correct band name.


.

Waior
May 28th 2009


11461 Comments


I was under the impression that you were being polite about the album throughout the interview, as you never really openly praised it or gave much insight to your own opinions on it. Which I guess is more professional. But bereft of the context of this review, I found things in the interview like "you did want to speed it up or get really heavy, but you never really did on the album" sounded like you were perhaps a bit disappointed.

I suppose I misinterpreted.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I suppose I misinterpreted.

Definitely. I actually told him I liked it and again that I liked it a lot. He sort of picked up on what you did, though, so who knows. I've actually always preferred his non-SYL work, hah. I never really got into them.

jingledeath
May 28th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, and that was incorrect.

Oh okay, well great review. Album is excellent and Trainfire and Lady Helen are amazing.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like Trainfire on its own it just kind of chops the album up for me.

Willie
Moderator
May 28th 2009


16145 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I haven't given this much time yet, but the opening few tracks were nice.

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Waior
May 28th 2009


11461 Comments


Definitely. I actually told him I liked it and again that I liked it a lot. He sort of picked up on what you did, though, so who knows.


Yeah, I noticed but I had a lingering feeling that that was just obligatory respect to 'HevyDevy' but it's good to know otherwise.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 28th 2009


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think it was nerves more than anything. I wasn't going into the interview as a huge fan (more of a casual fan) and I just was worried we wouldn't be able to get it going. Obviously it ended up going well but yeah.

botb
May 28th 2009


9776 Comments


I enjoy this a lotttt. good review as usual.

Waior
May 28th 2009


11461 Comments


Ah, working album artwork.

zuzek
May 28th 2009


752 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review Cocaine, this is pretty much exactly my own opinion but better worded than my review in progress so no use to post it now. I kind of like how Ki teases you with where it's going. Coast and Terminal are the best tracks on the album in my opinion.

feehan
May 28th 2009


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review, album is amazing!

DrReg
May 28th 2009


127 Comments


Top work all round. Between this and the interview you tend to get a good feeling for what the album and project is about, and it helps a little with that all improtant first listen. Good stuff.

HighandDriving
May 28th 2009


3288 Comments


This seems like it would suck.

KILL
May 28th 2009


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

why

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

Zip
May 28th 2009


5312 Comments


haha ziltoid.



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