Devin Townsend

karljant

Ancient Mariner
Devin Townsend - Synchestra:

By now, if we know something about Devin Townsend's personality, it's easy to understand why he needed to record an album such as Synchestra. While creating the misanthropic and chaotic mad trip that is SYL's Alien it was expected that the man felt his positive side overwhelmed in such negativity. So in addition, Devin wrote an album that would serve as Alien's absolute counterpoint: where one was about disruption, confrontation and alienation this one's about harmony, belonging and synchronicity (thus the title). So much that the entire thing was later described as being one single song with various parts, reinforcing that sense of unity and all things as part of a cheerful whole.

In all honesty the first songs totally confirm that "one song record" concept: Let It Roll is a soft lullaby that invites us and one can hardly notice the passage to Hypergeek, an equally acoustic arrangement that suddenly blasts into a intense yet really shiny thundering double kick barrage. Triumph is the first proper song by itself and starts building memento as Dev shares how he must abandon some of negative habits and frame of mind in order to harmonize himself with the world. Proof of that urge of harmony is Steve Vai's participation with whom he already came top terms by now. Baby Song follows, a nursery rhyme with some great guitar lines that blatantly deals with Devin's wife ongoing pregnancy. A theme that was already focused on Alien's Possessions under an expected grim and twisted form, is now seen as something natural and positive that makes us relatable to our own kind. And although the lyrics reveal a man's worry about being an absent father due to his way of life, in the end Dev embraces his future roll of parenting. All of the sudden an Hammond keyboard and a tambourine start to build an absolutely hilarious Polka among Gremlin like giggles and so Vampolka gains form as the perfect intro to Vampira, a cheesy horror fim inspired tune with funny and ingenious melodies and some really well cut heavier parts (like the one there's a blatant appropriation of some chords of Metallica's Seek And Destroy). Even being up to the neck with intended cheesiness I must admit this tune sounds immensely great.

Mental Tan recovers a way more serious approach and serves as a launching pod to the enormous Gaia, an absolutely gorgeous composition featuring some cryptic lyrics (but surely relating to the ancient Greeks notion of the earth as an whole) that surely will delight every Devin die hard fan. Pixilliate's next, throwing us in a 8 plus minute monster that while moving through various mood, always seems to maintain the listener absolutely immersed in its aura while a mantra against self centering resounds. As Judgement progresses we are thrown back to the earliest years of Devin's solo project since the song brings back that wall of sound factor in unparalleled doses when compared with the rest of the songs. I believe that's not a coincidence since the song seems to portrait Devin's messiah complex during that time of his life. A Simple Lullaby is a bombastic yet melodic 7 minute long immersive almost instrumental track that alternate various moods, cradling us unto the brief yet beautiful prog like Sunset. Notes To Africa is an excellent, mystical and energetic theme that features an immensely well thought inclusion of a snippet from Alien's Love, "rectifying" the previous twisted take on such important matters This works only to reinforce more how this record is the absolute opposite of SYL's 2005 effort, and it should be (quoting the lyrics): "Know from what you've learned/ It came from Africa... Know the chosen ones/ They come from everywhere" a smart reference to our genetic lineage to enforce the notion that we're all the same and part of a single entity. The album ends with Sunshine And Happiness a title more than suitable for a poppy and happy closer.

Synchestra is a curious album. It seems odd sometimes and due to it one may get a bit lost here and there. Nevertheless it features some really great songs and nothing here seems to be out of place. It can be a bit overwhelming and stagnant at times but it's part of its somehow "Zen-like" subject. In the end it turned out to be a well needed come to terms and catharsis from Alien. It would also turn out to be the last Devin Townsend Band album. After this Dev would still record the comedy like Ziltoid The Omniscient and would shock the world announcing he would retire for a while to take care of his familiar life (by then he was already a father). Until his hypothetical return, Synchestra accomplishes while checking all the quality parameters of Devin Townsend's previous releases. And that alone is more than enough. (8.25)

Must Listen:
Triumph, Vampira, Gaia, Judgement, Notes From Africa
 
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Shmoolikipod

Poison Godmachine
Okay, here's the crap meme I promised 3 days ago on the 1,000,000 replies thread: (LOUDNESS WARNING)

Alien is Devin's most insane record, I don't think there's much arguing here. Only Deconstruction and Infinity (and the rest of SYL) come close.

Anyways, I was listening to Watershed (Opeth) the other day, but after The Lotus Eater I had an urge to listen to Thalamus. And after ending, the song compelled me to follow up with Zen, and that's probably where the album ends for a lot of people. But I saw the title of the next song and stayed seated for the next 12 minutes...

I tell you, Alien doesn't lack crazy songs, but Info Dump is such a crazy journey and it's a crime seemingly nobody cares for it. For the first 5 minutes, I sit anxiously waiting for that first silencing drop. It frightens me every time. Then it begins to pick up noise, and I'm not sure if I want to raise the volume or lower the volume. I soon realize the correct answer because it gets real loud real fucking quick. And it bombards your ears with those drops (featured in the video). It sounds like reality is shattering. It's so noisy it makes you go insane. And then ends in a comical scream.

It's the perfect ending to such an album and it amazes me how a noise track can deliver the same ideas as the songs, and on an exponentially stronger level.
 

karljant

Ancient Mariner
Typical Townsend crazy stuff in the vein of some of the quarantine project stuff. But I strongly believe this is just for fun. And this has as much to do with City as my family doctor has to do with Josef Mengele. :D :D :D :D
 
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