Quickie: Devin Townsend – Physicist
This is basically a very upbeat, poppy album. On one hand, it’s got the typical Devin Townsend treatment – wall of sound, sung vocals, a good degree major key tonalities, and on the other hand, I’m citing it as further proof for my theory that musical “accessibility” is more a function of music’s structure and complexity, as opposed to its aesthetics (other examples being classical music and Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger”). The overall aesthetic is more “aggressive” than the two preceding Townsend solo albums (Ocean Machine/Infinity), but overall, it’s not as aggressive and heavy as any given Strapping Young Lad album. The writing is similar, even if this has a greater share of melody.
I hate to use such a hackneyed expression as “emotional”, especially when it’s often used to portray pop music as something more meaningful than it is, but this is a very passionate album. Then again, this is nothing new for DT. What separates this from the more melodic SYL material is the overall celebratory spirit that it has – this is very upbeat stuff. Describing this in terms of this intangible stuff is almost necessary, considering that it has the same lineup as classic SYL (Townsend/Stroud/Simon/Hoglan), and a similar devotion to aural intensity. The fact remains that this is a relatively poppy album beneath the aggression and wall of sound. What makes it worth compared to the hordes of pop albums out there? The quality of the performance and the songwriting need to have a word with you. From ripping speedy material like “Victim” and “Namaste”, to spacious melodic material like “Kingdom” and “Planet Rain”, the album has about the standard amount of variety, but the key is in the execution. If you like your music dispassionate and abstract (I sometimes do), there’s always a Bach fugue for you, but whatever.