The world needs people like Devin Townsend. After ceasing activity with the now sorely missed Strapping Young Lad in 2006, Townsend set out to record his ninth solo record Ziltoid The Omniscient. A concept album, it told the story of a coffee addicted alien from the planet of Ziltoidia 9 who travels to Earth in search of the perfect cup of coffee. It seemed the ever welcomed madness of Townsend had reached a new height. Unfortunately, soon after, Townsend decided to lay down his guitar, get sober and work on being a family man after the birth of his first son in 2006.
But of course like any musician, especially one as gifted as Devin Townsend, the thirst for playing can never be quenched. Refreshed and revitalised he set about writing new material under the pseudonym of The Devin Townsend Project; a four album concept each revelling in four different styles. Ki is the first instalment.
It’s much more in the vein of his 2001 masterpiece Terria as well as his two ambient records, DevLab and The Hummer. If you yearn for Strapping Young Lad brutality you won’t find it here. The gentle strolling of “A Monday” into “Coast” is indicative of the soft, relishing soundscape that is Ki.
Ki also sees a collaboration with singer Ché Dorval. Her striking vocals and at times gentle croons add several new dimensions to this material. While the likes of the “Disruptr” and “Gato” (where Dev revisits his sharp growl for ol’ times sake) dashes through various build ups with several different vocal styles, Dorval really shines on the latter.
“Terminal” is very Floyd esque and reminiscent of “Nobody’s Here” (Terria) and slowly grows till the listener is in a trance like state. Its swooning atmospherics only serve briefly as “Heaven Send” summons a lively drum beat and moves through vivacious vocal alterations.
Ki is a much more serious record than Ziltoid that’s for sure but “Trainfire” dabbles in some much needed fun, firing through lively leads and lyrics like “sexy seventeen year old”.
Returning to the textured and multi layered resonance, “Lady Helen” is the aural equivalence of a light afternoon breeze and its drift into the ethereal culmination of the title track is seamless.
Ki wondrously weaves intricate prog laden passages with an ever absorbing eccentricity that we always come to expect from Devin Townsend. The second album in the series, Addicted, lands in November supposedly portraying a more accessible, “dance-able” sound.