The Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
While shoving loose change into coin wrappers, I put on the Devin Townsend Project’s new album, Transcendence. While I sort the change on my floor, I contemplate ideas such as life, death, and the possibility that one could make a business out of sorting money.
Townsend’s albums are very structured. First, a topic is selected and preferably a term from new age spirituality. Then, two chords are selected. These two chords are extrapolated into as many combinations as possible. All one of the combinations are played over and over again with a building symphonic orchestration in the background with shouting chorus. On occasion, a diminished harmony is used, such as a 7th chord.
In letting the screaming angels featured in semi-absolutism songs, such as “Truth,” and “Failure,” one is sent on a rigorous mental journey through simple philosophical concepts turned ambiguous. In “Higher,” one is taken up to the top of the spiritual spectrum, then told that there is a level higher, foregoing the previous conclusion. In “Stars,” one might think that Townsend might believe that the spiritual and physical worlds are in some way related, but one might also wonder how transcendence ties in to this.
The title track in question is only six seconds shy of six minutes long. It also features super alt rock style lyrics that go absolutely nowhere. The greatest line on the album or perhaps in all of Townsend’s repertoire is featured at the end of the track:
“Who transcends this?
Do you transcend this?
Who transcends this?
Do you transcend?”
This stuff is amorphous enough to not bother me. Townsend will say one thing, then two lines later say something entirely in contrast. This is the kind of psychobabble I can appreciate. However, the music is ultra-repetitive. One could drop a needle on 90% of the album and not know which track it is. This is a plus and a minus, of course, but after seven, eight, and nine minute songs, this entire album turns into background music of the most organized sort.
So, after questioning my ability to provide for myself, I am back where I started gathering bottles and cans to take to Kroger. They have the fastest bottle scanners. Transcendence is more of a lucid dream than a vision quest.