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Townsend, Devin: Ocean Machine

Even though I own every solo album of Townsend and a few Strapping Young Lad discs, it is important to note that I am still in the very early stages of digesting his writing. I've listened to all of his albums quite a few times but not enough to compare the rest of his catalog with his debut effort Ocean Machine, which is the one and only Townsend disc I've been wearing out as of late. I remember listening to this the first few times and being shocked. I couldn't grasp it and had a hard time understanding what was so special about his music. But after giving it some time, with several spins every once in a while, the music began to slowly sink in.

This has to be the one of the most difficult pieces of music to put into words. Maybe it's because it doesn't sound like anything else I've heard before, maybe it's because of its experimental attitude. What I know, however, is that I appreciate Ocean Machine in more than one respect. The album consists of many layers, all of which catalog various musical and lyrical ideas. Upon lifting one layer, you find a new one that has a lot more to offer. The music is very rich in content; it shows that Townsend is an extremely talented musician. The production work is masterfully crafted. Devin is a very independent-minded artist; I honestly don't believe any record label would ever release this. That is probably why Devin began his own label (HevyDevy): to liberate himself from restrictions and experiment with new and fresh musical ideas. Thus, the outcome is very innovative and sublime. There is a general dark and brooding atmosphere that surrounds every song, but not in a negative way. His music is far from depressing, it's just that he obviously likes to reflect the darker side of life. The album generally catalogs lyrical themes such as loneliness, despair, love, and it documents Towsend's emotional state vividly. It is like a diary that gives the listener a glimpse into the many facets of his inner world.

Although each song stands on its own, they all make a unified statement giving the impression that there was a very strong sense of unity during the creation of this album. Musically the album entails various elements that refuse to acquiesce. They are virtually impossible to categorize, but some distinguishing characteristics include avant-garde influences, odd instrumentation, dark lyrics, unusual compositional structures, and a secret rejection of commercialism. As much as the playing on this album tends to display a minimalist approach, the compositions vary a lot with effective key and tempo changes. Devin Townsend's vocals range from very smooth to almost harsh growls, although the latter is kept to a minimum, since the songs really don't need any aggressive vocal harmonies.

I think this is one of those albums you need to listen to from beginning to end since each song serves a purpose. It is therefore difficult to choose favorites but I particularly enjoy the songs "Funeral", "The Death of Music", "Life", and "Bastard". Although this album has a running time of 74 minutes it is very interesting how it gets more and more addictive towards the end. The few songs in the middle, such as "3 AM" and "Greetings", balance the album out perfectly. Then things begin to gain momentum again and the songs guide you through the haze.

If you are familiar with Devin Townsend through his work with Steve Vai and haven't heard any of his other albums, then be prepared for a nice surprise. Because this might be one of your most interesting musical discoveries ever. Whether you will like his solo or Strapping Young Lad albums is beside the point. They may not be up your alley, but one thing is certain: Devin Townsend is one of the most original artists you will ever hear. Until I discovered his music, I must admit I'd never heard anything like this, and didn't believe such a thing was even remotely possible. He creates music that has a sound all its own. His approach to songwriting and expressing himself artistically is the main aspect that distinguishes him from any other musician I know of, be it a contemporary artist or not.

Track Listing:
1. Seventh Wave
2. Life
3. Night
4. Hide Nowhere
5. Sister
6. 3 A.M.
7. Voices in the Fan
8. Greetings
9. Regulator
10. Funeral
11. Bastard: Not One of My Better Days / Girl from Blue City
12. Death of Music
13. Thing Beyond Things

Added: March 24th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Devin Townsend's Web Site
Hits: 4134
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Townsend, Devin: Ocean Machine
Posted by Somewhat Anonymous on 2011-12-19 04:12:49
My Score:

This album is a soothing sea of audiative orgasms. You canīt really believe that this is the same guy who did "Punky Bruster" Or that this was only shortly after his debut with S.Y.L. But maybe this has what some of his recent stuff if lacking, the passion of a young man, i still believe he has it. But this album makes his recent stuff pale a bit in comparisation imho.

Townsend, Devin: Ocean Machine
Posted by Random Name on 2011-08-29 05:02:24
My Score:

Devin Townsends perfect decert island CD. Itīs decerted and outlandish yet catchy aswell. If youīre into happy jazz and donīt like prog, rock or overall expressive music itīs prolly ainīt for you, but anyone with a weakness for loud expressive music and enjoys the dreamy aswell for sure check it out. A perfect unique combination of ambient/new age, industrial metal, punk/grunge rock, and dream pop. Check it out for sure.




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