Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence (Inside Out Music)

Oh Devin...you almost lost me there...
Release Date: 
8 Sep 2016 - 11:30pm

Devin is quite comfortable with himself, the rest of the band, his collaborating musicians, and possibly everything in general. It's somehow apparent on Transcendence, and there was a moment there when I just couldn't decide if he'd got himself into a comfortable 'ass-groove' cushion-like rut, and had decided not to push himself anymore. It was a concern for me, I tell you. It took me a number of listens before I could (with mighty relief) say 'Oh Devin...you cheeky so-and-so...' before concluding that his new album is most definitely a delight. As always.

Truth, which is a re-working of the opening track on Infinity (1999) kicks things off. It's simultaneously bigger yet more ethereal than the original; and do I hear the arousing tones of Anneke Van Gierbergen? I think I do. Not only is Transcendence graced with Anneke's powerful vocals, there's also Che Aimee Dorval (from the Casualties of Cool project), Katrina Natale and the five members of choir Tigers In A Tank peppering the album with spicy vocal additions. Blimey. I just wrote 'five members' and conjured a strange vision to match the outstanding album artwork...Look at it - it's like Baphomet gone mad...

Anyway Truth slides easily into Stormbending and we're treated to the familiar ache of Townsend's compositions. The tune soars and universes and galaxies fly past at lightning speed. It surges upwards with its orchestral magnificence. Oh Devin...you're spoiling us once again. Failure kicks off with a bobbing intro riff that's easy to throw yourself about to. A late 80's/90's Pink Floyd-esque solo comes in and there's shards of keyboard and more choral work while Secret Sciences has an acoustic intro and is quite minimal in places. Yet it's also weirdly baroque in combination with sexy robot dancing. Make sense of that, if you can.The juxtaposition of DT's voice against the female harmonies are powerful and stirring. But it gets more intense with Higher (again, another acoustic guitar intro). It's maudlin and heroic. Mr Townsend seems to say 'I am not afraid of my emotions' and then boom! It's all slinky with sci-fi bleeps and bloops and I'm forced to re-evaluate my attitudes and re-configure my approach to things

Stars is where I almost faltered though. It's comfortable and almost (dare I say it?) formulaic. Not that it's weak; it's merely Devin doing his Devin thing. Transcendence - again, there's nothing inherently wrong with the tune - and those lady-vocals are incredible. It's just..well, it's like I've eaten too much cake. Perhaps I'm simply unable to endure the rapture? Luckily any indulgence is swept away with Offer Your Light which is Abba on steroids and electro madness. It urges us upwards and onwards with frantic, frenetic, Wagnerian scale. From The Heart conjures massive cock-rock anthems but without the 'Ooh baby baby' lyrics. It glints, glimmers and gleans from mid-way to outro. This is one to get your lighter out to, swaying gently as you snuggle in closer to your significant other half. It whiffs of Casulaties of Cool. Finally it's a cover of Ween's Transdermal Celebration which Devin and co stretch from its original three minute format into some mad eight minute monster. They make it their own. It's epic. The album is epic, and I'm relieved I stuck with it. What twinkles!