Review Summary: This is what my head sounds like.:)
Among my favourite solo artists, (Morse, Unruh, Gilbert, Fish,) Townsend has come out on top. What seperates Townsend from all the other artists is his abillity to create fresh and rewarding albums-all with their own stamps. While some artists tend to stagnate and ultimately-repeat themselves-Devin constantly releases unique, personal, and emotive music. While my above mentioned solo artists have dipped into predicatbility and mediocrity, (except Gilbert for obvious reasons) Devin continues to surprise me.
I suppose we have his mental condition to thank for that. Devin's music is far from what we perceive as normal. Most people hear his music only to dub it as noise and pass it off as pretentious nonsense, but to those of us who hear something more, we are blessed with some amazing sounds and insights. The mental condition I speak of is bi-polar disease, which I believe is Devin's number one muse. If it isn't his muse then I am certain it plays a large part when he writes. To truely understand Townsend's work is to understand this mental disease so look it up if you don't have it. The disease is chaotic, desperate and it's capable of inficting many postive and negative emotions within the sufferer, sometimes all at one time. It can be unbearable and thus, the usic of Townsend is bi-polar itself. I do believe that each of Devin's albums possesses a theme-not concept-to unravel and deconstruct. A different angle of the disease if you will.
Today, we will be discussing Terria. Now, at first, I did not like this album at all. I was first introduced to Devin's work through "Ki." Not knowing enough about the artist, I downloaded Terria and expected the same thing. What I got was a bunch of jibberish with no coherence whatsoever.
"Terrible," I thought. "What kind of idiot would enjoy this""
No, I didn't "get it" as the elitists would say. Out of sync keyboards, confusing lyrics about nothing, musical themes changing far too quickly. No, this was not music, it was just pretentious wankery that Prog jackasses deemed genius. It makes no sense, so it MUST be genius, right"
On one Summer day, not too long ago, I decided to give it another chance. I had recently been diagnosed with Bi-polar and my mind had matured. I wasn't expecting anything. I just wanted to kill some time. On this day, everything clicked and this one seemingly mismashed tapestry of ridiculous threads suddenly weaved together to show a beautiful picture. A picture of the chaos that ensues, not just within bi-polars, but people in general.
"Oh, so this is what the fuss is about."
Imagine a book, if you will. A book with misspelled words, unbroken paragraphs and randomly capitalized letters. Imagine this book is written with the most juvenile words imaginable. Imagine most people quickly giving up on it. Now, imagine a single person, taking the time to read the whole damn thing. Taking time to analyze the randomly capitalized letters, and then suddenly, grasping a message the writer was trying to deliver. Now, the book makes sense and it's way better than "The Last Templar" (snicker.) Well, now imagine all of that was in the form of a round piece of plastic.
I began listening to the album in a closed state of mind. I remember Olives and Mountain played and they didn't really do much for me, other than the music was better than I remembered. "Earth Day" played, and by its conlusion, my mind was blown open. What an amazing piece of music. I enjoyed the rest of the album immensly.
Again, Terria stands on its own as a piece of music. It can't be compared to any other artists or albums, it is simply Terria. I suppose if you twisted my arm, I could say it sounds like "Ocean Machine," but much more chaotic. Devin uses the art of production to give us gorgeous atmospheres and windy, rainy weather; however, whereas Ocean Machine took me to darkened city streets, Terria takes me somewhere else-a small corner of my house with bad weather pouring down outside. A house inside of myself. Wow, that last sentence REALLY sounds retarded but, that's really how I feel when listening.
We really can't call this a stricly atmospheric piece of work, as there are plenty of headbangable, almost SYL like moments contained within. Sure, we can hear screams, stop start guitar riffs, and some pretty venemous lyrics, but it's well balanced. Balanced enough for this album to again, escape genre classification and yet so unbalanced, it would grate even the most diligent music listener's patience. Terria is just TOO Proggy for Prog.
"SO, SHUT YOUR FACE
AND TAKE A SEAT
CUZ AFTER ALL, YOU'RE JUST TALKING MEAT AND MUSIC"
Well, it's just entertainment folks"
"DUH DUH DUH BLAH BLAH BUH BRIDHE BURCAH BLAH"
You gotta love that ***!
I believe that Terria explores chaotic introspection, or in other words, how many different emotions we can feel when we just sit down and think about things. Peace, frustration, anger, misanthropy, cynisism, love, longing, loneliness-it's all here babe (sometimes in one song.) Yet, there's a strange feeling that by the end of the album, we've come to terms and balanced all of these beautiful and ugly demons in our heads.
One should also mention Townsends vocals and production. I think that this is Devin's finest moment as vocalist. It is empassioned and somewhat restrained, unlike in Deconstruction where he just said whatever the *** he wanted however he wanted. I guess you could say the performance on Terria is tasteful. The production is great as well. Townsend is a true master of Protools, and likely, the fifth incarnation of the Buddha. You gotta love his personalized "wall of sound" and multilayered vocals. It's a joy listening tp Devin singing along with Devin backed up and contrasted by a choir of Devin's.
Stand outs include the above mentioned Earth Day, as well as Nobody Here. Simple lyrics and simple music, yet a powerful message about the weakness and frustration of always feeling lonely. I guess it's also one of the "songier" songs on Terria. I know this may sound strange, but i can't comment on the way the instruments are played as music takes a backseat in DT's work. We should rather be focusing on what all this noise represents. The noise is created by guitars, keyboards, a drum machine, random bleeps and bloops, and out of sync....air things. All of which complement each other nicely.
I'll tell you what this album is to the average music listener (and even Prog head.) This album is incomprehensible garbage. It's crap people listen to only because it makes them feel smart....because no one else listens to it. It's a mess. There are no guitar solos, annoying effects and dumb lyrics (What the *** is Recycle supposed to mean"" To the open minded, it sounds like heaven. Majestic atmospheres, clever and subtle lyrics, and gorgeous vocals by one of Pro'gs most unique voices. To the bi-polar....well, this is what our heads sound like and no one understands it or captures it better than Devin Townsend.