Review: Devin Townsend Project – Ki

Location: Vancouver, Canada
Genre: Progressive Rock/Ambient
Released: May 25, 2009
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Devin Dissection

By: Kris Kotlarik

Look at any album review for this album, and you have about a 90% chance of seeing the word “restrained.” If you look at vjetropev’s semi-infamous review, you’ll see him rip this album, as well as anyone who likes it, to shreds.

He’s not entirely wrong (although his methods of going about it might be) here; the reason why I like Devin so much is because he has almost always been unbridled in releasing whatever crazy idea happens to be in his head at the time. Ocean Machine, City, Alien, Terria, and Accelerated Evolution, all of which have been reviewed on here with high marks, are all evidence of this process. Imagine being a lifelong fan of a band like Dream Theater, which is well-known for using time signatures that probably don’t even actually exist (I’m just kidding here…but seriously), decides that they are burned out with their current process and wants to make an album that is exclusively in 4/4. Some (many) fans probably won’t like it. Ki has the same effect.

However, Devin’s restraint on Ki is still part of his “do what comes to mind” mentality; after over ten years of drug-and-alcohol-induced insanity, Devin gave all that up and wanted to control his anger for one album with the knowledge that anything after that was open season. So yes, I respect Devin’s mindset here. But a lot of the material on this album doesn’t stand out for me.

So I know what you’re probably thinking: “I bet this asshole hates Ghost and Casualties Of Cool, too.” No, those albums are fine. They are both only listenable in the right mood, but feel much more cohesive than this one does. There is so much discombobulation here, often caused by Devin himself, especially in “Heaven Send,” a song in which he engages in dialogue for about fifteen seconds, all well after the song should have actually ended. There is no way that song should be nine minutes long. Other non-starters here include the fluff jams of “Ain’t Never Gonna Win,” “Demon League,” and “Quiet Riot.”

My overall favorite song here is “Disruptr,” which fits the whole “coffee lounge metal” vibe that has been thrown around quite a bit when describing this track. But this track thrives in a live setting, right up there with some of his live staples such as “Deadhead” and “Juular.” It has the right composition to be thoroughly crushing if played in a certain way. As it stands, it’s still a great track.

Other good moments are mostly orchestrated by Che’ Aimee Dorval, who is a collaborator on the Casualties Of Cool project. Her voice is heavenly; there’s no other way to describe it. Her part on the end of “Trainfire,” a rockabilly track with tinges of Elvis and themed around the perils of porn, is brief but great. She also has other small parts throughout the album that are always pleasant. Meanwhile, “Winter” has a pleasing melody that goes on way too long, and the title track is rather dull up until around the 4:00 mark when he busts out a happier version of the arpeggio Ziltoid riffs and bursts into a massive wall of sound.

“Coast” is an all-around solid track that is probably right behind “Disruptr” in terms of ranking. The rest of the tracks here, and this album in general, can best be classified as a moodscape. “Terminal” might be the best example; it’s a lovely track with a relaxing melody, but it’s not what I usually would go for unless I am trying to go to bed. The same can be said for “Lady Helen.”

Overall: Since I am completely on the fence on this album, it should get a corresponding rating.

Rating: 2.5*

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