Devin Townsend – Sky Blue (2014)
A lot of this album is pretty far outside my usual listening habits, but within Devy’s massive discography I can already draw a lot of clear comparisons – Biomech and Terria come to mind if I scan what I’ve listened to, and I’m told Ki, Addicted, Epicloud, and a whole slew of his other recent works share some similarities too. “Fallout“, in particular, sounds like it could’ve been written for Biomech and easily fit in with a production shift. Needless to say, this is far from undiscovered territory for Devin and his various companions. One major difference, though, is the huge emphasis on vocals, especially those of main female vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. This isn’t even her first time working inside the Project; but the types of vocals she uses seem pretty similar to those of Devin; lots of clean earnest singing at various dynamic levels, although she doesn’t seem to bother with screams.
Now, there are some people who aren’t into artists using the pop side of their repertoire/musical language. I used to think I was such a person, but I’ve found some degree of serenity since then. I don’t know about the rest of Devin’s discography, but apparently Z² has a lot of content that tributes or pastiches other artists, including a few you are very unlikely to read about on this blog. Considering that I never even thought this might be a possibility until researching the duology AFTER listening to it, I’d say it’s nothing more skeevish (or normal) listeners need to worry about. On the other hand, it also probably means the members here have been doing as they please for a while. It’s a good way to keep your music from being too neurotic.
Oddly enough, when you get to the dynamic levels that you see on Sky Blue, I begin to prefer the straighter ahead pop material to the more ambient material; Tangerine Dream this is not, and it doesn’t want to be either. Comparing again to other Devin Townsend works, I tend to get more out of Biomech and Infinity than let’s say Terria, and I’m probably not going to end up acquiring Ghost unless I end up listening to a sample of it and getting particularly gripped/possessed by its content. I don’t know if I would’ve listened to Sky Blue if it didn’t come with the successor to Ziltoid the Omniscient, but it succeeded in further interesting me in that side of Devin Townsend’s music. In other words, it’s a success.
Highlights: “Fallout”, “Universal Flame”, “Warrior”