“Hello all, Devin here, I am very fortunate to be supported by a group of companies that help to facilitate my current work and it’s time requirements. In light of the album projects I’m planning for 2021 and 2022, InsideOut has asked to do a series of live albums, quarantine albums, and generally interesting projects that keep people entertained while I’m busy on my next larger releases. So we bring to you the ‘Devolution Series’: a grouping of oddities and interesting material that I would like people to hear, but don’t necessarily want to present as a ‘major release’.
The series will include all the quarantine songs and concerts, as well as various live shows from the past few years. The first release is a remixed and remastered version of the ‘Live in Leeds’ show that was originally on the ‘Empath’ Ultimate Edition. It was a cool acoustic show that deserves to be heard I think, so we can use this as an introduction to the series. I’m am currently deep in the writing of my new projects and am very excited to be doing so. Thanks for facilitating my ability to do that, and I hope you enjoy the ‘Devolution Series’.”
Over the course of the last 25 years, accomplished heavy music artist Devin Townsend has remained consistently inconsistent. I don’t mean in quality. Far from it – as my listening ears have crossed his musical output, that is one constant – the top quality of his work. What I mean is that he’s rarely consistent in what we’ve come to expect from him. Expect the unexpected. Constantly dabbling and dealing different styles of music, he has followed his own particular muse in any way it leads him for almost three decades. And good on him for that. In the past, Devin has been told that it is simply ‘not possible’ to do all these different styles of music in one place, yet he regularly proves that not only can it be done, but in a musical climate where taking chances is typically seen as ‘unwise’, it can be done with supreme confidence and absolute lack of compromise. All those in favour, say ‘aye’!
Now, it’s all well and good to hide your persona behind a wall of sound, embed yourself within a group of people all making blended music so that the spotlight is shared. But for me, the biggest test is to be all alone, upfront, the focus of attention, with no trimmings to hide behind. Laid bare, metaphorically speaking, for all to see. It’s down to talent, and talent alone. That’s when you discern ability. That’s when you see and hear what people are about. That’s when you know when you are onto something.
We’re onto something here.
The relaxed atmosphere, spontaneity and even humour during tuning is welcome. Oh, and what a lovely sound he gets during that tuning session – sets your expectations high for the actual set! And ‘Let it Roll’ is a suitably dramatic, anthemic and effective atmospheric opener, laced with the aforementioned classic Townsend surprise of laughter followed by anger. This is not an album, it’s opportunity to listen in to the original show. Listening to ‘Funeral’ and Deadhead’ you are amazed at the expression and light and darkness he can create from effect-laden guitar and reverb-heavy vocal dexterity. In fact, with this style of guitar I put him up with Roy and son Nick Harper or Bill Nelson for drawing so much emotional drama out of a guitar. And as for his acrobatic voice – such versatility! ‘Ih-Ah’ provides a rich showcase for that voice, with enthusiastic audience recognition mid-way, and a characteristically Devin-esque segway into the lengthy ‘Love’ and even more effect-laden operatics. BTW there should’ve been an expletive warning in this track and following tracks as he rages, swooping and soaring manically! ‘Hyperdrive’ is focused and rhythmically driven, less being more in this instance. In fact, hyperactive might be as good a description as he soaks in ‘Terminal’, then frets and jigs in ‘Coast’. ‘Solar Winds’ ebbs and flows, and ‘Things beyond Things’ gorgeously closes the CD. It’s as if you were there. Well, almost. It fades out as he continues to be the raconteur…..
So Devin, did I enjoy this part of the ‘Devolution Series’? You bet I did.
2. Let it Roll
10. Solar Winds
11. Things beyond Things