The Devin Townsend Project - _Deconstruction_
(Inside Out Music, 2011)
by: Dan Lake (8.5 out of 10)
How does anyone who is not Devin Townsend attempt to analyze music by Devin Townsend? Who can navigate the apparent contradictions and inside jokes, then reply with anything but mixed emotions and question marks? No point asking whether Strapping Young Lad's ferocious face-nuke was meant to be angry or silly -- the answer is yes. One of Townsend's most profound invectives blasts out of the final minutes of the monumentally zany _Ziltoid_ (and if rock music has witnessed any moment more Python-esque than a club full of Townsend devotees shouting "We are all puppets!" then somebody needs to put that shit on YouTube right now). Earnest rock records like _Biomech_ rattle alongside the sneering satire of _The New Black_, which in turn shares the same discography as the near silent _Hummer_. The upshot of this sublimely erratic career output? The relevance of Townsend's music has always been acutely personal, often to the point of being insular, an artifact of Devin's personality submitted by Devin's hands for Devin's approval. Many listeners need to feel more included by their iPod faves; one hopes those befuzzled souls have already moved on.

Released simultaneously with the exquisitely delicate _Ghost_, _Deconstruction_ represents one quarter of the publicly detoxed Devin Townsend Project, which also includes the sober grooving _Ki_ and Abba-meets-Leppard power pop of _Addicted_. Should a person wish to create _Deconstruction_ from scratch (not recommended), the sonic recipe would include chopping up the other three DTP releases, grating a liberal amount of SYL fury over it, and tossing the resulting Dev-salad with a thick dressing of every band in your collection with more progressive tendencies. Plus the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. And a full Dutch choir.

The combined effect is a 48-ring circus stuffed under a single tent, starring every thought that's crossed every Vancouverite mind since the turn of the millennium. Throughout the proceedings, Townsend steals shamelessly from himself (quotes and references from multiple older works pepper this new one) and from his peers (skipping from the first seconds of "Planet of the Apes" to "Sumeria" might convince a person this is a mixtape of Meshuggah and Gojira tracks). Of course, Townsend avoids cynical (see what I did there?) comparisons by including contributions from members of the very bands he plunders, a prog metal honor roll longer than some bands' setlists.

In 2009, Townsend reported to Decibel writer J. Bennett that _Deconstruction_ was "not a very fun record, lyrically", but what's really no fun is trying to pick apart said lyrics and draw some kind of thematic relationship to the bloated, flatulent Scylla masquerading here as music. The audience is left with the horrifying impression that form fucked function, without ever asking if function enjoyed it. And seriously, how can a record that once bore the working title _Deconstruction of a Cheeseburger_ (quote from title track: "The secrets of the universe are between the buns...") not be fun?

The inevitable question: how well does it all hold together? Dunno yet. I've only listened to it twenty or so times, and something new drops into place each spin. Get back to me after a hundred or so more. Honestly, though, I'm scared shitless that "getting it" might involve losing corporeal cohesion, and how does one bang one's astral head?


(article published 22/8/2011)

10/7/2012 D Lake 8 The Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud
8/22/2011 D Lake 9 The Devin Townsend Project - Ghost
1/4/2010 J Smit 4 The Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
5/29/2009 D Cairns 9.5 The Devin Townsend Project - Ki
11/1/2011 D Lake The Devin Townsend Project / The Ocean / Rome Apart Ziltoid Invasion, Good Vibrations
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