Devin Townsend - Guitar Improvisation #1 review


17 users:
Band: Devin Townsend
Album: Guitar Improvisation #1
Release date: July 2020

01. Guitar Improvisation #1

It just wouldn't be an ordinary Wednesday if Devin Townsend didn't release another album. The entire globe has been in the throes of an old-fashioned viral crippling, not to mention concurrent social unrest, for the better part of this year so far, but it has also been a whole 15 months since Devin released another full hour of music; if he can't bring an entire band into the studio, then it's time to chill out and noodle for a while. The title Guitar Improvisation #1 is as literal as it gets: this is a 66-minute session of Devin playing around on his guitar, and it's the first one of them.

When I hear the phrase "guitar improvisation" as a descriptor of content rather than mere technique, I tend to think of jazz, so from the initial announcement I was half-anticipating an album of free-flowing licks moodily swung into on a semi-distorted archtop, accompanied by a glossy, monochrome action shot of black-suited Devin haloed by cigarette smoke. In retrospect, I don't know why I expected that, because guitar solos have never been a favorite pastime of Devin's; his forays have always met with success, but hearing him play around with the lead functions of the instrument is definitely the exception rather than the rule. Naturally, Guitar Improvisation #1 goes in a much different direction: one of pure, relaxing ambiance. The guitar in question is softened into a light, feathery oblivion, a cooling salve made from gentle suggestions of melody. This album is one of emotion rather than motion, one titanic track of soothing musings on a tamed axe. From the name, I assume that any sound we hear is simply heavily adulterated guitar rather than synthesizers or otherwise, but there's a radiant splash of sound emanating from each note that could easily be a synth drowning in bokeh (or whatever the sonic equivalent of that is).

Ambient music has always played an important supporting role in Devin's many creative personae; sometimes more overtly, as in the mellow chamber country of Casualties Of Cool or the pillowy folk soundscapes of Ghost, and sometimes more obliquely, as in the rainy progressive odysseys of Ocean Machine or the bombastic rock of Accelerated Evolution. Devin has even made some nominal forays into the world of unstructured, experiential music, specifically 2004's Devlab and 2006's The Hummer. Devlab, though, is still a capacious concoction swimming in information, comprising samples, moodswings, bizarre noise, and a wide array of instruments that make for a certain type of ambiance, yes, but not the sort that instantly brings "ambient music" to mind. The Hummer is a lot closer to the mark, something easier to ingest while floating away on island time, but it gets weird in its own way. Despite the merely functional title, Guitar Improvisation #1 is Devin's first comfort-focused chill-out album.

It should come as no surprise that any genre Devin Townsend enters becomes all the better for it. This album is basically whale song played on the guitar and I fully expect to nap along to its dulcet rippling sooner or later. If you're like me, then your anxiety about the future isn't going away, but maybe you can lull it to sleep for an hour. I look forward to Devin's album of lo-fi chill anime hip-hop beats to study to.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5
Production: 9


Written on 08.07.2020 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 148 users
08.07.2020 - 07:38

I have never imagined Dev noodling with Enya vibes to be review worthy. I'm now expecting 2 as well to be dissected.

Canadian black metal
08.07.2020 - 07:46
Now review the 2nd one too
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

2021 goodies
08.07.2020 - 18:09

Really nice review ! That coming from someone who knows most of Devin's catalog back and forth and who mostly enjoyed his ambient explorations - Devlab and The Hummer.

Now for a review of the second one ?
Avantgarde / Oriental Black; Psychedelic / Stoner; Post / Sludge; Djent / Prog; Jazz Rock / Metal / Fusion / Cool Jazz; Ambient / Ambient Techno
09.07.2020 - 05:52
tiny dog ghosts

I dig it

Hits total: 2261 | This month: 53