Devin Townsend Project - The Retinal Circus (Inside Out Music)

Too much joy is never a bad thing...
Release Date: 
29 Sep 2013 - 11:30pm

I should point out that this review will be heavily biased because I'm of the opinion that Devin Townsend is an absolute legend. I love his enormously fruity work and the fact that you never know what you're going to get when he releases a new album. Having said that, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect with The Retinal Circus, the live album taken from his gig last year at London's Roundhouse, and I wasn't disappointed.

The whole (double) album is strung together by Steve Vai acting as narrator, who links the tracks together for the listener who (sadly) couldn't be there to get the full impact of the actual live show which included monkeys, fire-dancing and all manner of entertaining showmanship. Luckily there's a DVD of the gig too so that eases my pain slightly. It opens with the weepingly beautiful vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen (who now has her own album out too) on Effervescent/True North before slipping into Animals (both from 2012's Epicloud) then the delciously bent Planet of the Apes (from Deconstruction) which is just jammed with lovely choral moments and synths galore. I think "Be gay for the monkeys" is my new motto. Anyways, we then move into Truth (Infinity) then the chugging goodness of War. Such joy. I'm not going to list every track because there are 25 of them on here and every one of them is an utter delight - but you do get a pretty good spread of tunes from Devin's massive back-catalogue.

But I must add that Ziltoid pops up for Planet Smasher, with his missus squeezing out a child. And Anneke busts it out again and again, particularly on the all-too-short Soul Driven. Ooh! And the jolly fun of Vampolka possibly belies the semi-autobiographical nature of the dialogue...and...and...gah! There's just too much brilliance to be covered. Addicted! is funkalicious too...just get the album. Get the DVD. Get involved - 'cos apparently it's all about the relationships...

Sycophantic reviewing aside, it's a sweet, sweet piece of work and Ryan Van Poederooyen on drums, Mike Young on bass and Dave Young on guitars all deserve a massive shout out too. Genius of the highest order...