Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Devin Townsend "Ghost" (2011)

Is it possible to completely forget a record? Of course, butt one you have great adoration for... Well that was me a while back as the lengthy, wandering Texada song comes on shuffle and an eerie feeling washes over. Prompted to give Ghost a proper spin again, it occurred to me its been a criminal amount of time since it last cross my mind. How many years had it been? I felt as if I was looking in a mirror and slowly recognizing my own reflection. The experience was a revelation of locked away memories, the key turn clicking as each track brings a flood of familiarity and feelings. This album was once my therapy, a force of calm to visit in times of need and yet somehow it had drifted away from me, despite all of its beauty and charm.

To me, Ghost feels like a further exploration of the magic Ki offered two years back. Stripping out the metallic grooves and sailing into the lofty indulgence of his deeply reverberated guitar tones, the inclusion of soft airy synths, dreamy electronic ambiences and the dynamic woodwinds of Kat Epple, illuminates a wholesome spirit most these songs embody. The opening is strong, Devin unloads his passionate pleas, gushing emotion forth in the wake of serine atmospheres and rapturous melodies plucked from his bright acoustic guitar. Its fine song writing, wandering in and out of soothing ambiences with himself and Katrina Natale swelling in the rises of voice and melody that form structures within the flowing river of sound.

The web of instrumentation is stunning, dense yet inviting, one can get lost of the layers of soft sound that breeze by. Dave Young's key work with the synths add an endless sparkle of cosmic curiosity with the psychedelic electronic tones he interweaves. The percussion from Mike St-Jean is timely and measured, complimenting the wondrous direction the music steers in. Retreating in its lulls and subtly rising in the surges of song writing, its a performance that understands exactly what the record needs, a textural performance of craft and softness.

Sadly, I feel as if the record falters in its length. At seventy minutes its initial pattern meandering between swooning atmospheres and bursts of life gets weight down at the mid point. Its with monsoon that the tone pivots to the exploratory. With a brief pull back to the spirited rise of traditional song on Texada, and again with a bit of a miss on Seams, the latter half falls victim to its calm as much of the genius in the first half leaves its lengthy final cuts with less to offer, hiding in the shadow of greatness.

Healing is the word I'm left with to describe this record mood. Its a therapeutic experience and a curious one to rediscover again. Its as if it never left but now with the tentative ears of an enthused listener, keen to analyze my own experience, I realize that genius is rare and can be exhausted. I have immense adoration for Devin and his unique sense of inspired identity that comes with his music but he is human after all. It feels like this record was left to fizzle out after hitting the mark aptly with its string of opening songs. Either way I am glad to of found this treasure again.

Rating: 8/10