Devin Townsend



by mwinstanley7 USER (1 Reviews)
December 13th, 2021 | 8 replies

Release Date: 12/03/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is an excellent set. For me the bluray is the focus. An engaging movie and a stunning surround mix that take us on an emotional and psychological journey. I very much enjoyed that journey

The Two Albums

There have been a lot of comparisons over the years that have Devin as some kind of modern day Canadian Zappa, which I think has more to do with the way he goes about things than his music ...... but this album, could actually be seen as Zappa-esque .... To some degree this kind of makes me think of Lumpy Gravy, mixed with a bit of DTP, a slight taste of Z2, and then mixed around with some anxiety and covid era isolation, and we have the album Puzzle.

Snuggles is a somewhat ambient album, and although sonically aligned to The Puzzle, has a very deliberately different feel.

In his liner notes, Devin says that this set probably shouldn't be considered an album.....
He says...

"The Puzzle is not meant to be an album. It is meant to be a musical and visual synopsis of the most messed up and stressed out period of my (our) recent history
2020 and the Pandemic affected us all in one way or another, and like many of us I found myself isolated and having to find a way through the storm"

He goes on to explain that he tried to write songs, but was constantly sidetracked by the abstract nature of the year. He explains the process and reasoning and it is an interesting read.

Essentially via online communications and transfers, Devin put this album together with some of his friends and it was about people putting in what they felt like if they had a section to enter. Devin apparently didn't give them any directives to do or not do anything in particularly..... so the album ends up sounding like one would assume in all the circumstances that surround it...... but that is only if you feel it would sound coherent, but slightly disturbed.

In some ways, the music made me feel like I was going on an emotional journey with someone, as the emotions shared on here, seem to speak to various levels of sanity, and how circumstances can manipulate that sanity in various directions at different times.
I found it surprisingly coherent, under the circumstances under which it was made.
So that would be The Puzzle.

Snuggles on the other hand, is a somewhat ambient affair, and Devin says he made it as a response to the anxiety of The Puzzle. The puzzle is a document of the chaos and anxiety of the last couple of years, and Snuggles is supposed to represent the peaceful coming to terms with it all.... "written to comfort people dealing with anxiety ...... for me it offered a solution to the anxiety"

So I must say, this is not at all what I was expecting..... and it possibly won't be an album that gets on the player with frequency, but! I wouldn't say for one minute that I didn't enjoy it. It was just..... lets say, if you put on an album expecting to hear AC/DC and the music coming out is Jean Michel Jarre, it can take a moment to recalibrate your mindset towards it.......

So I am going to be very interested to hear what the bluray sounds like. One thing I can say, is that what I heard on the cd certainly has the capacity to transfer well into a surround mix ... actually.... thinking about it now, this would likely sit next to Ryuichi Sakamoto's ASYNC... not that it sounds the same, but more in the way it is expressing a deep emotion, predominantly without words.... anyway..... I'm not sure if this waffle is helping at all so I'll move on here.

The Bluray Movie

This goes for about an hour and five minutes, and from my perspective it is quite stunning.
The two albums are quite different to the bluray amalgamation ..... I'm not sure what else to call it. So essentially what I wrote up the top there about it, before watching the bluray, is distinctly different to what the bluray has going on.

From my perspective, in a lot of ways, this is a masterpiece of sorts. It is musically distinctive, and engaging. It flows through feelings and aural landscapes that take us on a sort of journey.
From a 5.1 perspective it is quite stunning.... I'm not really sure what else to say about it in that regard.

The video is engaging, and I think very well done, and seems representative of certain things in the first half, and just sort of eye candy, with deeper meaning in the second half.

I think what we have here, based on one listen to the albums, and one watch of the bluray...... so bear with me....

The bluray starts off with Devin in the Pandemic lockdown. He is left alone to explore his own mind, which creates varied scenarios, and the music reflects that extremely well. Just like we as people move smoothly through emotional/psychological journeys, so to the music here flows seamlessly through emotional/psychological journeys. The imagery in this first section, has pieces of live footage with Devin in various everyday scenarios, but with the reflection that this isn't an everyday scenario, because there is an isolation factor. In between the real footage, there are various animated sections that seem to function as the thought patterns happening inside.... almost like a search inside his own mind for some kind of balance .... some kind of comfort or contentment in a situation beyond his control.

the second part starts when Devin puts his mask on and walks tentatively out the door..... This section is somewhat more of an ambient music section, but I personally didn't find it dull, or lacking in musical engagement, which for me, to be honest, most ambient music kind of is.

It seems like when Devin goes out the door we enter a certain reflective contentment, and all the video thereafter is predominantly flowing themes of colour, that had I not been thinking about doing this, would likely have sent messages of deeper meanings..... there are scenes of nature in there, the ocean seeming to play a big part in it...... but there is a series of images and effects that seem to be making clear that the universe is bigger than us, or our planet, and everything will be ok..... or something along those lines........

This is a tough cookie to explain.....

I found it aurally stunning, and visually engaging, and oddly comforting.

I really think it is worth checking out, unless you only really like to listen to songs.
There are songs in here, but not really in a normal sense of the word, because it is all one flowing mass that seamlessly flows together.

Anyway, I love this. It seems quite unique to me, and it feels comfortable, yet is not familiar.....

I'm not sure how to communicate this one..... I reckon it is excellent, and probably a sort of high art, without being exclusive or elite ........

user ratings (62)
other reviews of this album
Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (2.5)
Simply put, Snuggles is just a meditation and de-stressor album. Nothing more, nothing less....

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 12th 2021



Contributing Reviewer
December 12th 2021


Album Rating: 2.5

I found it aurally stunning, and visually engaging, and oddly comforting.

December 13th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

The Puzzle reminds me a lot of Lumpy Gravy/Only in it for the Money/Uncle Meat

December 13th 2021


how so

December 13th 2021


Album Rating: 3.0

Hell naw

December 15th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

In that it’s short, varied tracks of different genres that all stream together. Songs linked together by various forms of audio that include voices, music, and unique recordings in a way that resembles Zappa’s musique concrète stylings. Snuggles doesn’t, but the Puzzle certainly gives me Zappa vibes. Pretty sure he had Zappa alumni on his last LP but haven’t looked over the immense 50+ musician list for the Puzzle

December 15th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

I agree that this album doesn't offer anything better than Ghost or Casualties Of Cool, but it still provides a good listen.

December 16th 2021


Nice, a place for true Devin fanboys! This is indeed excellent, gotta decide my final score but this feels a continuation from where Casualties of Cool left. Awesome stuff!

Digging: Dolorian - When All The Laughter Has Gone

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