DEVIN TOWNSEND — Ghost

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DEVIN TOWNSEND - Ghost cover
3.67 | 45 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 2011

Filed under Non-Metal
By DEVIN TOWNSEND

Tracklist

1. Fly (4:15)
2. Heart Baby (5:55)
3. Feather (11:30)
4. Kawaii (2:52)
5. Ghost (6:24)
6. Blackberry (4:53)
7. Monsoon (4:37)
8. Dark Matters (1:57)
9. Texada (9:30)
10. Seams (4:04)
11. Infinite Ocean (8:01)
12. As You Were (8:47)

Total Time: 72:45

Line-up/Musicians

- Devin Townsend / guitars, bass, vocals, banjo
- Dave Young / keyboards
- Mike St. Jean / drums
- Kat Epple / flute

About this release

Century Media Records, 20th of June, 2011

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and xaxaar, bartosso, adg211288 for the updates

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DEVIN TOWNSEND GHOST reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Phonebook Eater
8/10

Ghost is one of the very best mellower albums by a metal musician.

Devin Townsend’s newest project finds itself to an end with the final chapter “Ghost”, one of the best albums by the musician and the calmest he’s ever been. The four albums of the project wanted, as Devin said, to represent each “side” of him. If “Ki” is also a mellower effort, “Addicted” is a heavy but very straight-forward one, and “Deconstruction” is as wild Avant-Gardish and chaotic as Devin had never been before. But “Ghost” wanted to represent Townsend’s softer, peaceful side, and what a beautiful sight it is.

There are, of course, no traces of any kind of metal: “Ghost” is influenced by genres such as New Age and a lot of Ambient music too. I dare to say that some vocal melodies are a little reminiscent of Ambient Pop and Dream Pop. If there are any guitars, they are always clean; if they are any drums, they’ll mostly be played with jazz brushes, and always laid back completely. The key instruments I hear are the big chunk of synthesizers, flutes, some very light loops here and there, electronics, and the guitars of course. But the vocals I hear are the most magical addition: I always liked Townsend’s cleans, but here, they are special, and perfectly go along with the enchanting female vocals. The production is crystal clear, as it was definitely intended to be for creating the atmosphere Devin wanted to capture so much.

“Ghost” is one of the most peaceful and quiet albums you’ll ever hear. It is a soothing journey that most fans of the musician wouldn’t expect. The atmosphere this album creates, as a matter of fact, is absolutely priceless: You feel like you’re on an island, by yourself, without technology, without surrounding people, just nature. This feeling Devin attempted to create has very much succeeded, and like no other album that has attempted to do so. It’s great to hear also how even though maintaining pretty much the same concept throughout the album, there is in the music great amount of variation: some melodies are sad, some are ethereal, some are cheerful, some are melancholy. With these handful of moods, I’m happy to say that Devin created out of them a wonderful rainbow of sounds.

There is clear distinction between the first and second half of the album: while the first is more emotive, melodic, and straight-forward, the second half is more Ambient driven, with less vocals, less clear melodies, just pure atmosphere. The delights can be found practically anywhere, from the opener “Fly”, setting a very proper mood for the rest of the album. “Feather” is a very melancholic, multi part piece, where the Ambience is something indescribable. The title track and “Black Berry” are somewhat more cheerful and happy, especially the latter, thanks to it’s great banjo addition. Then, there are more Ambient focused songs, like “Infinite Ocean”, “Texada”, even though the term Ambient can be used on this one very widely, “Moonsoon”, and the final track “As You Are”.

An album I thought was going to hate, but I actually ended up falling in love with; a definite must listen for any Devin Townsend, despite being different from every other recording he’s done. But it you’re a fan of this man, there is no way you can know him without listening to his peaceful other side. One of the great highlights of the year, an album that would be remembered hopefully in the future, as one of the very best calm albums by a metal musician.
J-Man
Devin Townsend has always been one to experiment with different styles in his music, especially in his own Devin Townsend Project. Ranging from crazy extreme progressive metal to pop, atmospheric rock, and now ambient, this project has shown the eclectic and multi-faceted musician that "Hevy Devy" truly is. Ghost, the fourth and final installment in the Devin Townsend Project, is radically different than anything else the man has ever done - even by Devin Townsend standards, this album stands out substantially from the rest of his work. Rather than using rock or metal influences, Ghost is almost entirely based in extremely calming and tranquil ambient/new age - quite a contrast to the wacky extreme prog metal of Deconstruction! This album is filled with lush atmospheres, pastoral instrumental passages, and soothing vocals, topped off with an excellent production and calming soundscapes. Ghost isn't flawless by any means, and I think Devin Townsend could've succeeded a bit more at an approach to ambient music, but this is generally a beautiful album that I'd recommend.

Musically, Ghost is focused on long, drawn-out ambiance, rather than complexity or technical prowess. For the most part, I think Devin succeeds tremendously at creating lush atmospheres and beautiful compositions. The spacey synths, pastoral acoustic guitars, jazz-oriented drumming, airy vocals, and flute passages give the listener a feeling of relaxation, and the light-hearted compositions make the relaxation even more inevitable. Although Devin Townsend's ability to create fantastic arrangements is ultimately the finest asset of Ghost, the songwriting does take a bit of a dive about halfway through the album. It may be partially due to Ghost's insanely long running time - over 70 minutes of music this simple and relaxing is bound to get a bit boring - but it also seems that some of the later tracks lack the memorability of "Fly" or, my personal favorite, "Feather". Ghost feels a bit too drawn-out for my tastes, and occasionally induces boredom towards its second half - something that could've been easily eliminated if the album were trimmed down by about a half-hour. Despite my complaint about the album's running time, the lush atmospheres and crisp production do remain excellent throughout all of Ghost, and keep any of the songs from coming across as completely disposable.

Ghost is probably the definition of an "acquired taste". People who love ambient and new age music will undoubtedly find plenty to love here, but I can't shake the feeling that it feels too drawn-out at times, despite being extremely beautiful and relaxing. Devin Townsend really took a risk with Ghost, and although it isn't perfect, the fact that he ended up creating a very high-quality album is applause-worthy. I wouldn't say this is a good entry point into Devin Townsend's music, but it has enough worth to justify a purchase from any fan of the "mad scientist of metal". 3 - 3.5 stars are well-deserved here. I'm glad I heard Ghost; I'll certainly take it out again when I'm in the mood for a well-produced new age album.
Diogenes
I love the Devin Townsend Project. Not the music necessarily (the first two albums have been sorta hit or miss for me), but rather the idea behind it; it’s Townsend’s way of kicking himself in the ass to further explore all corners of his incredibly creative brain. Dev’s music has always been unique in that each album has a different mood and style than the last, but his Project takes that concept to new extremes. Ghost is by far the softest, most peaceful album that he’s put out, and the furthest removed from the metal genre, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Not even close, my friends!

First, to please you genre freaks…I’m not sure if I would call Ghost an ambient album. It’s not one of those packs that you get for free that’s full of spacey synth noises to help you relax (although some of the songs on here could be used like that). There are ambient elements, but that’s not all that Ghost is. I like to think of this more as an expansion on the atmospheric and airy parts of Townsend’s sound; if that must include ambience, then so be it. But by listening to this, you can tell right away that this isn’t some unknown Russian artist with his keyboard or some sap hired by the Discovery Channel to make their programs more interesting. It’s definitely Devin Townsend, but I guarantee you haven’t heard him like this before.

What we have on Ghost is a collection of flutes, synths, and the occasional acoustic guitars coming together with Devin’s wonderful clean vocals to form an album of incredible cohesion and emotion. This isn’t the first time that he’s experimented with foreign influences to add a special flavor to his music, but it is the first time that he’s done so in a genuinely uplifting manner. I use that word carefully, mind you; Ghost is not happy in a bombastic or energetic manner. Think of it as a walk through your local forest or nature preserve right after a good rainfall. The sun is peeking out of the clouds, there’s not a soul around, the water droplets are still fresh on the leaves, and the air is abundant with that fresh spring smells that lets you know that you’re alive. That’s more or less the feeling I’m getting listening to Ghost; undoubtedly upbeat, but in a more serene and blissful manner.

There isn’t a boatload of guest appearance on Ghost like there is on Deconstruction. However, on an album like this, less is truly more; the vocals by Katrina Natale build upon and ultimately make the peaceful atmosphere what it is. What better way to convey this sort of thing than to have a gorgeous female voice humming along with the synths and woodwind instruments? I can’t think of any. Her voice contrasts yet compliments Devin’s in a truly unique way.

The tracks on Ghost are arranged in a way that has the calmer songs both up front and behind, as both an introduction and conclusion for the more upbeat ones in the middle. Kawaii, the title track, Blackberry, and Texada are the more “interesting” tracks and the catchiest on the album, with banjos making an appearance and vocal harmonies that spread the merry feeling like a virus. But that’s not to say that the other tracks aren’t worth listening to! Fly is an amazing opener and As You Were is an amazing closer. Infinite Ocean is exactly what it sounds like: a never ending musical voyage over quiet waters. Feather is my personal favorite, with Devin giving an astounding vocal performance and telling quite the heartfelt tale. There’s a myriad of content on Ghost that, true to the Devin Townsend trend, differs just enough to stay interesting, but is all awesome in its own way.

Whoever says that this is a boring album is missing the point. It’s long, yes, but this isn’t music that you listen to while you’re shooting people on Xbox Live or rock out to when you have nothing better to do. It’s thinking music. Try it when you’re out driving at night or while you’re reading a book. You MUST have the right mindset when listening to Ghost, or you will be bored halfway through Feather. If you think of Ghost not as “an ambient album by Devin Townsend,” but instead as a relaxing musical journey through your thoughts and desires, then you’ll see what a beauty this album really is.

Ghost succeeds in every place that it tries to and in some places that it doesn’t. While most people will flock to Deconstruction as the wild and crazy side of their lovable Devin, I feel that Ghost tells us all that we need to know: Devin Townsend is the brightest and most versatile mind in metal, even when he isn’t writing anything of the sort. Simply outstanding.
Conor Fynes
'Ghost' - Devin Townsend (6/10)

Finally, a two year saga has been wrapped up for this Canadian musical mastermind. Starting in 2009, former Strapping Young Lad frontman and acclaimed solo musician Devin Townsend set off on reinventing himself with a series of four vastly different albums; a project he would call the Devin Townsend Project. After an atmospheric rock, pop, and symphonic extreme metal album, Townsend has now come to the final installment in what he has stated is the culmination of his musical career. Here it is, the long awaited record 'Ghost', which apprises the man's ambient and most laid back side. While the album maintains the same level of decent quality that the rest of the Devin Townsend Project's output has amounted to, 'Ghost' stands on its own as a very pleasant and easy listen, but perhaps too much so. Although it is a strong piece of new age music, the one tracked nature of 'Ghost' can lead to a fairly numbing experience at times.

Although 'Ghost' is a complete contrast to the previous Project album 'Deconstruction', it works in very much the same way. Sticking to one sense of dynamic and running with it, Devin Townsend uses a very calming, folky, new age mellowness with this; acoustic guitars, eastern flutes, jazzy drum work and ethereal vocal works are set forth to make this the ultimate relaxation album. To some extent, Townsend achieves this. If any word can come to mind here, it is 'soothing'; even Townsend's usually over-the-top vocal delivery is toned down to a soft, gentle croon for this. While the effect is nice for a while, it can get undeniably tedious at times. Especially considering the album's stretched length passing the seventy minute mark, it is very possible to be both relaxed and bored by the album.

My personal favourite from the record may very well be the song 'Feather', which like much of the material on 'Ghost' is quite a drawn out and ambient piece, but it is quick to show the strongest aspects of this side of the man's work. Easily the greatest thing about 'Ghost' is in fact the production; although the songwriting is generally nothing special or particularly inspired, it is clear that plenty of thought has gone into fleshing out each track into part of this otherwordly experience. From Townsend's staple 'wall of sound' effects to incredibly warm vocal harmonies and an amount of detail and nuance that surprisingly rivals 'Deconstruction', 'Ghost' is an intricate piece of music, even if it may lack the sort of songwriting depth and dynamic to keep a listener interested throughout.
adg211288
Ghost is one of a pair of albums released by Canadian musician Devin Townsend under his Devin Townsend Project moniker in 2011. It is paired with the album Deconstruction. Ghost focuses on Devin’s atmospheric side, while the other album focuses on his metal side. On Ghost Devin performs what is essentially a brand of atmospheric progressive rock, with plenty of ambiences to boot and some hints of folk as well.

In comparison to its metal partner, Ghost is very much a relaxing and laid-back affair, in pretty much a reactionary sense to Deconstruction, both musically and lyrically. Ghost is like the grown up and mature big brother to the crazy and often comedic Deconstruction. It’s nice to hear that there are many sides to Devin Townsend, but is this case I’m not overly fussed about the results.

The album is just as well crafted as any prior work of Townsend’s that I’ve heard, and many of the melodies are simply beautiful. The trouble it suffers from that fact that the album is just too long at about seventy-two minutes. I like atmospheric music and I feel that an album such as Ghost is good but in moderation. This is just too much and about half way through my attention has started to wander. I still enjoy Ghost a fair bit, but when put up against its progressive metal partner, I know which one of the two I’m going to want to listen to the most. The biggest problem in terms of length though is actually a problem that is shared between the two albums; the longer songs such as Feather, Texada and As You Were feel dragged out, and I strongly feel that Ghost would actually be a stronger effort overall if it was trimmed down to perhaps a forty minutes duration at most.

Ghost is an oddball of an album because it’s beautiful and well crafted, yet somewhat boring in parts. Whereas Deconstruction really delivers the goods (mostly), Ghost falls short of even being solid. It’s a good album to be sure, where all the ingredients are worthy of praise, but the end result just isn’t memorable enough. Those into atmospheric music will likely enjoy it, and I’m sure Devin’s biggest fans will still lap this up, but I’ve heard much stronger takes on atmospheric music in the past. To be honest neither of the Devin Townsend Project albums released in 2011 met my expectations based on the hype around them, but Ghost gets the dubious distinction for being a bitter disappointment as well.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 6.0/10)

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