The Devin Townsend Project – Ghost (2011)

Posted: May 26, 2011 in Music

It was only a week ago when we posted our review of the chaotic, heavy and insanely good “Deconstruction” from The Devin Townsend Project (read that review here), and now we have the final piece of the puzzle – Ghost – which will be released on June 20th (the same day as the Deconstruction release).

Devin himself stated that while this was actually the fourth album in the tetralogy, it was recorded third due to the arduous task of mastering Deconstruction, which was nothing short of technical amazement. For those of you new to Devin Townsend, not all of his work is riotous, obnoxious metal. He definitely has a softer, more elegant side and has released several ambient albums over the years. It’s not a side of Devin that gets much publicity, but it’s actually some of his most inspired work.

Ghost fits into this category. If you are expecting more screaming, drum blasts and speed guitars, prepare to be disappointed. This album is the exact opposite. This really should come as no surprise, though, as we’ve already scratched the surface on Townsend’s Jeckyll & Hyde mentality in earlier reviews. Bi-polar musicians are bound to create bi-polar music, and this is definitely the “ying” to Deconstruction’s “yang.”

And that’s what makes this album so amazing. It showcases Townsend’s ability yet again as a musician – this time focusing on the songwriting element of it all. It’s a very organic release, sprinkled with an array of nature’s finest sounds – rainfall, crickets, croaking toads, and wolf howls. Accompanying all this is a varied assortment of instrumentals you may not expect to find on an album like this in the form of flutes, banjos and anything else Devin could get his hands on.

While the instrumental aspect is top notch, what really stood out for me this time around was Devin’s vocals. He actually has a very calming, sublime voice that is a bit more on display here then, say, on Ki or Terria. At one point it will carry a track, while on others, it feels more like an additional instrument instead of a vocal. At its softest, it’s a barely audible whisper, and at its loudest, it’s barely more than a speaking tone – yet somehow remains majestic throughout. The occasional female background vocals (who sounds like Anneke van Giersbergen, the vocalist from Devin’s 2009 Addicted album – but I can’t confirm that) add an additional layer from time to time, but it’s definitely Devin’s voice on parade this go round.

The arrangements, as usual, are perfect. In fact, there is just an overall sense of calm to the entire album that has a dream-like effect on it. The few interruptions from the drift come in the form of the title track Ghost, Blackberry, and Texada.

Ghost begins with a quiet build that makes you think something amazing is on it’s way, but then suddenly shifts into an airy, poppy, drum-brushed chorus that has the male/female vocal harmonies bringing back memories of the Carpenters in their softness and appeal. It’s simple in nature, but still sweeping and grand in structure. In fact, it is easily the most constructed track on the album, with at least 12 different tracks gently laying atop each other.

Blackberry starts with the same ethereal feel of the entire album, but quickly picks up the tempo a bit with a snare drum and banjo medley. If there’s a “rocking” tune on the album, this is it, but it doesn’t stray too far off the path the rest of the album has laid. It’s reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac to a degree, and the female vocals are stronger here than on previous tracks. While the rest of the album was a nice stroll in the park, this one felt like more of a jog. Quicker tempo and stronger beats led to the most epic build on the album. In fact, at its highest point, It felt like Devin was about ready to let out a scream – but it disappeared into yet another gentle closure. In my opinion, this was the strongest track on the album.

Texada is the most “progressive” sounding track on Ghost. Again, Townsend’s vocals haunt and shine simultaneously, As the song builds, the vocal layers keep adding up almost to a dizzying frenzy – yet somehow it all stays together as if wrapped by feathers. The crescendo grows and grows through this 9 minute overture, and takes your senses with you. You can’t help but dig deeper and deeper into the subtleties, and after taking it all in, you will have a better understanding of Devin’s absolute mastery of the music he creates. To be strong and epic while remaining soft and natural is no easy task, yet Townsend seems to be able to manage it with great ease.

This album, as a whole, is a beautiful piece of art and imagery, and fits well alongside the other three albums in this set. Where Deconstruction leaves you feeling like you have been run over by a lawnmower, Ghost gives the sensation of laying in that freshly mowed grass, losing yourself in the clouds above.

It will undoubtedly be a while before we hear anything new from Devin Townsend, as these four albums have consumed the better part of three years of his life, and Ghost couldn’t be a more fitting farewell. I hope Mr. Townsend enjoys his time off, and I hope you – the reader – get the opportunity to enjoy these albums as much as I did.

9/10

Tracklist:
01. Fly
02. Heart Baby
03. Feather
04. Kawaii
05. Ghost
06. Blackberry
07. Monsoon
08. Dark Matters
09. Texada
10. Seams
11. Infinite Ocean
12. As You Were

Buy It At Amazon: Here

MySpace: Link | Wiki: Link

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Comments
  1. real gone says:

    Ghost could be one of the best albums of 2011. Read my full review here: http://www.realgonerocks.com/2011/06/devin-townsend-project-ghost/

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