DEVIN TOWNSEND – launches series of live streamed, fundraising shows in aid of healthcare workers

Music fans across the world are missing the thrill of going to live concerts, and Devin Townsend is here to help. Devinis hosting live concerts in his home studio this month, each one raising money for healthcare workers around the world. The first took place this past weekend in support of Vancouver’s General Hospital, selling close to 2000 tickets, and raising nearly 50,000 dollars. Devin has put together an impressive 4-camera rig for these streams, controlled using nothing more than an Xbox controller. You can watch a recording here:

The second will be in support of the NHS in the UK, and the third will be in support of hotspot hospitals in New York. Shows will last around 50 minutes, with different setlists each time. The top donors for each show will receive signed merchandise from Omerch, album goodies from InsideOut as well as several high-end products from a number of Devin’s gear companies such as Mooer, Fractal, Toontrack, Dunlop and |Fishman to name a few. All ticket buyers will also receive a (somewhat tidied-up) remixed version of the show’s audio recording. 

Saturday April 25th – Noon PDT / 20:00 BST / 05:00 AEST

Saturday May 2nd – Noon PDT / 20:00 BST / 05:00 AEST

Get your tickets here: www.stageit.com/Devin_Townsend 

The release of ‘Empath – The Ultimate Edition’ was recently announced for the 5th June 2020. This comprehensive version of 2019’s acclaimed album contains the original record and bonus disc across 2 CD’s, plus 2 Blu-Ray discs. The first blu-ray contains the 5.1 Surround Sound mix by Devin, with visuals for the full record, plus a stereo visualiser. You will be familiar with some of the visuals including the stunning video for the uplifting single ‘Spirits Will Collide’: https://youtu.be/AdHJurX0yVA 

The second blu-ray contains a raft of bonus material, including ‘Acoustically Inclined – Live in Leeds’, a recording from his April 2019 acoustic tour where he performed tracks including ‘Love?’, ‘Deadhead’, ‘Thing Beyond Things’ & more. 

It also features the full Empath Documentary, a ‘Genesis 5.1 Mixing Lesson’, a full album commentary & more. The four discs sit inside a beautiful art-book that contains new liner notes and images from the making of the album.

Pre-orders are now available here: 

https://www.omerch.eu/shop/devintownsend/

https://Devin-Townsend.lnk.to/Empath-TheUltimateEdition

DEVIN TOWNSEND – Empath – The Ultimate Edition announced for release 5th June 2020

Devin Townsend is pleased to announce the release of ‘Empath – The Ultimate Edition’ on 5th June 2020. This comprehensive version of 2019’s acclaimed album contains the original record and bonus discs across 2 CDs, plus 2 Blu-Ray discs. The first blu-ray contains the 5.1 Surround Sound mix by Devin, with visuals for the full record, plus a stereo visualiser. The second blu-ray contains a raft of bonus material, including ‘Acoustically Inclined – Live in Leeds’, a recording from his April 2019 acoustic tour where he performed tracks including ‘Love?’, ‘Deadhead’, ‘Thing Beyond Things’ & more.

It also features the full Empath Documentary, a ‘Genesis 5.1 Mixing Lesson’, a full album commentary & more. The four discs sit inside a beautiful art-book that contains new liner notes and images from the making of the album.

Devin comments of the new 5.1 surround sound mix: 

“On a technical level, I guess I have always been dissatisfied with the basic ‘stereo’ format in which the type of music I make gets presented in. Whether its headphones, computer speakers, stereos (or basically anything currently), I have had to figure out ways to get the work to function through TWO speakers. I hear things in a particularly orchestrated way, and with the amount of information that typically gets recorded per song, the result has been the dubious ‘wall of sound’ that I keep ending up with. But my intention has never been to make an oppressive experience, but rather something that is immersive and vast.

Making it work in two speakers just simply doesn’t quite work for the vision. Although I’ve managed to get the point across, (to varying degrees), things always have to compromise to make it all fit. Making the drums speak at the same time as orchestra, cymbals, guitars, choirs, synths etc.…all with my voice on top, ends up with every conceivable frequency fighting for breathing space between those two speakers.

Therefore, I asked the powers that be in my business world, to tolerate one more ‘kick at the can’ when it came to Empath. I wanted to attempt a surround mix and follow the original vision of it being an immersive, multimedia experience for people in the ways I could best achieve at this stage. And although it’s still pretty ‘dense’, with four more sources for the sound to come from, I feel its significantly closer to the original vision here.”

Pre-orders are now available here: 

https://www.omerch.eu/shop/devintownsend/

https://Devin-Townsend.lnk.to/Empath-TheUltimateEdition

Devin will head out on a Summer festival run mixed with club shows in Europe, which includes a headline appearance at Bloodstock Festival in the UK.

04.06.2020 Sweden Rock Festival – Solvesborg (SE)

05.-07.06.2020 Rock Im Park  – Nürnberg (DE)

05.-07.06.2020 Rock Am Ring – Mendig (DE)

10.06.2020 Majestic Music Club – Bratislava (SVK)

10.06.2020 Mystic Festival – Krakow (PL)

11.06.2020 Nova Rock – Nickelsdorf, (AT)

13.06.2020 The Roman Arenas -Bucharest (ROU)

14.06.2020 Mixtape 5 -Sofia (BGR)

15.06.2020 A38 – Budapest (HU)

18.06.2020 Copenhell – Copenhagen (DK)

20.06.2020 Graspop Metal Meeting – Dessel (BE)

21.06.2020 Hellfest – Clisson (FR)

23.06.2020 Rockhal – Esch-sur-alzette (LUX) Co-Headline with Meshuggah

24.06.2020 Xtra – Zurich (CHE) Co-Headline with Meshuggah

26.06.2020 Rock The Night Festival – Rivas-Vaciamadrid (ES) – CANCELLED

28.06.2020 Tuska – Helsinki (FI)

29.07.2020 MetalDays, Tolmin (SLO)

30.07.2020 Wacken Open Air – Wacken (DE)

05.08.2020 Brutal Assault Festival – Jaromer (CZE)

07.08.2020 Bloodstock Open Air – Walton-On-Trent (UK)

09.08.2020 Into The Grave – Leeuwarden (NL)

12.08.2020 Summer Breeze, Dinkelsbuhl (DE)

Find the full list of upcoming dates here: https://www.hevydevy.com/tourdates/

Review – Casualties of Cool – Self-Titled – By Gary Morley

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I didn’t know what to expect when I agreed to review this.

The only album I possess by Devin Townsend is ‘Ghost’ which is, I’ve learned atypical of his output. ‘Ghost’ is a beautiful ambient collection that drifts and soothes the soul.

First listen to this indicates that it is closer to that vibe than the rest of his output. The opening tracks have a driving percussive attack that is more skiffle than anything else. One thing that made me smile – my son came down from his room to complain as the bass on the opening track was making his bed vibrate! Now I was not playing it loud, it was late at night after all, but that‘s the sonic palette used here – subwoofer friendly bass to the front.

The voices are multi tracked and muffled, this adds a ghostly feel to the songs, layering atmosphere on top of the beat. Lonnie Donegan on acid, but in a good way. Track 2 puts me in mind of a male fronted Cocteau Twins or a less cerebral Dead Can Dance.

So far, I’m enjoying this a lot, it’s very me.

If I try to relate it to a more Prog centred audience, imagine the narrative from Hawkwind’s “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” with all its twisting harmonies and dense soundscape, but without any reference to Sword or Sorcery. The feeling of claustrophobia stays, the voices buried beneath the mix, I’m sure the lyrics are deep and meaningful, but they are a layer of sound here, echoing around as the guitars are strummed and a droning wind storm of orchestral force swamps the mix.

It’s muddy and dense, whether this is the intention of Mr Townsend or not, all I can say is listening to it for the first time through headphones (out of deference to my son) is immersive, perhaps too immersive as the music is second place to the low frequencies.

I’m wondering if it’s also a by product of new headphones (blue tooth) and the format that the files came through in – MPEG-4 Audio , not a format I’m familiar with, being a top end MP3 or WAV man myself.

So far, the album has been a chilled mix of acoustic sounds behind this constant hum of bass and echo.

CoC

Hello, still with me?

Good.

Well, I’ve been a naughty boy, and for the purposes of this review, I’ve burned the files to disc. I know, home taping is killing music, but the difference between the 5.1 speakers of the PC, headphones and now a proper Hi Fi for playing this album through is marked.

Through the Hi Fi, it takes on new life, the drone of the bass is gone, the tracks are lighter, still ambient with a background of hum, but it’s now peaceful, much more in line with ‘Ghost’, the vocals from Devin Townsend remind me of a French artist, another favourite of mine, Kid Loco. They’re husky and breathy, but measured, like Lou Reed singing a lullaby.

The warm mix is very Kid Loco too, in fact you could mix ‘Kill Your Darlings’ tracks with the tracks on this and they would complement each other nicely.

Perhaps that’s the best way to review, write down the albums that you’d use to make a mix tape / CD/ Flash Drive with the one under discussion. Everyone would suggest different musical companions, as we all arrive here via different routes. I’d add a smatter of Turin Brakes to the mix too as the gentle strumming acoustic guitars evoke their sound.

Hello world. It’s me again. I have a confession to make. On the third listen, I could resist no more and ordered the deluxe 2CD and DVD version.

Why, you ask, when you have the review copy?

Well, the first reason is , this is fabulous stuff, earworms that burrow through the headspaces and leave little bomblets of melody and tunes that nag away until you give in and put the CD on . The second reason, and this is just my personal stand, is that if I like this enough to say go buy it, it would be doubly hypocritical not to follow my own lead.

No musicians suffered as a consequence of this review. Quite the contrary, as the purchase will generate income and that hopefully the relationship between artist and listener can continue by virtue of upholding the tradition of paying for the pleasure.

So, in conclusion, if you’re partial to a (quiet) blast of Brian Eno, are moved by Sigur Ros, like melody, prefer music with space between the notes and are ready to embrace the sonic nuances here, and then take a trip with us, we don’t know where we are going, but we have the perfect soundtrack.

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Released 15th January 2016

Buy CoC from InsideOut

Progradar’s New Year Wallet Emptier – 12th January 2016

Happy New Year my friends, after the bumper musical cornucopia of 2015, it is quite difficult to see how 2016 could top it but, you never know!

To get this year started with a bang, here’s a super-duper edition of Wallet Emptier featuring some great albums from last year that didn’t get to feature due to being released at the end of the year and some belters that are kicking off 2016 in fine fashion. Buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting ride…….

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M!NDGAMES – Paradox of Choice

Belgian proggers M!NDGAMES returned in 2015 with this new release, which was my first exposure to their classy brand of Neo-Prog. Bombastic bursts of symphonic tinged rock combine with delicate moments of reflection and sadness to give a feel of early Marillion, all underscored by swooping keyboards. An album that definitely gets better as it it progresses and one that is worthy of your attention.

Released 1st November 2015

Stand out track  – The Whistle Blower

Buy Paradox of Choice from CD Baby

Listen to The Whistle Blower on Soundcloud

 

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Jack Arthurs – Treasure House

With ‘Treasure House’, Jack draws from a deep well of poignant and reflective experiences to deliver a delightful collection of acoustic tracks that come straight from his heart and are like a breath of fresh air. He is tremendously excited to bring these stripped back, uplifting songs to life. Just one man and his guitar, Jack has written ten insightful and moving tracks that, together with his haunting vocals, lead you on a captivating musical journey into the depths of his soul.
Released 5th February 2016 through Bad Elephant Music
Stand out track – North Star
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Profuna Ocean – In Vacuum

I opened my email inbox this morning to find two new promotional releases, the first was for Profuna Ocean, a Dutch band I profess to having passed under my radar. Always open to new experiences I launched into ‘In Vacuum’ to be utterly stunned by what I was hearing. A more hard-edged, aggressive prog with intelligent lyrics, excellent vocals and excellent production. At 62 minutes long it never outstays its welcome and I found myself immediately pressing repeat play to be absorbed in its stylish aura once again, just WOW!

Released 8th January 2016 through Freia Music

Stand out track – Thousand Yard Stare

Buy In Vacuum through Freia Music

 

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N.y.X – The News

From the first note it was apparent that there is nothing quite like the highly original sound of N.y.X.They are at the forefront of avant-garde, experimental progressive rock, a real musical breath of fresh air. The multi-instrumental trio is joined by a number of impressive guest artists to build on the signature sound of a power trio enhanced by electronic percussions, synthesizers and effects.

Released 26th February 2016

Stand out track – The Daily Dark Delirium

Pre-order The News through Burning Shed

 

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Osta Love – Isle of Dogs

Berlin based Osta Love are one of the bands to watch for 2015 and their follow up the dark concepts of ‘Good Morning Dystopia’ is a complete breath of fresh air. ‘Isle of Dogs’ is full of their signature sound that unites Rock with Jazz, Pop with Baroque and adds a dose of melancholic dreamscape to form a unique sound that touches hearts and heads. Even though it was released at the end of 2015, I have only just heard this jewel and it is rapidly becoming a highlight for me.

Released 27th November 2015

Stand out track – Translucent Engineering

Buy The Isle of Dogs direct from the band

 

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Toxic Smile – Farewell

Another German band, this time hailing from Dresden, Toxic Smile have thrown out the rule book and produced an album that consists of just one 42 minute track and, guess what, it works! A soaring progressive rock and metal epic that takes you through a multitude of emotions in its relatively short running time. The distinctive vocals and superb musicianship are key elements to its instant attraction, a record that will surprise and delight on many levels. Another great release from Progressive Promotion Records.

Released 6th December 2015

Stand out track – well there’s only the one anyway…..

Buy Farewell from Progressive Promotion Records

 

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David Bowie – Blackstar

I had already decided to include this release before news of David Bowie’s death started to cross the web, while I have never been as big a fan as many, I have always recognised him as a great musical innovator and a true legend. ‘Blackstar’ was his 27th album and one of his recent best. Exploring new avenues using a jazz band he has produced a deep and sometimes dark release that, obviously, touched on his own mortality as he came to the end of his life. It now seems a brilliant, if poignant, testimony to his musical legacy.

Released 8th January 2016

Stand out track – Lazarus

Buy Blackstar direct from the artist

 

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The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Here From me

Another ‘Prog Supergroup’, this time featuring Nick BeggsRoger King and Marco Minnemann, rears its head to deliver engaging, expansive rock for the thinking person, apparently. While not perhaps living up to those lofty expectations entirely, it is an enjoyable listen and, when not sounding generically like a lot of the so called supergroups, has a real depth and intelligence all of its own. Don’t take it on face value and give it more than one coat of listening to and you will find an album that is worthy of your collection, just not quite a contender for album of the year yet.

Released 22nd January 2016

Stand out track – Swimming Horses

Buy Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me from Inside Out

 

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Casualties of Cool – Casualties of Cool

Originally released in 2014, this year sees the re-release of Devin Townsend’s rootsy country and North American folk music project as a 2CD and 1DVD package. Featuring the delightful vocals of Ché Aimee Dorval it is winsome and wistful in equal measure, evocative memories are brought to life on a battered old telecaster and fender amp in what is a complete change from the Canadian artist’s metal roots. Lay back on your lounger on the porch, sipping iced lemon tea in the sun, life’s easy really. Worth it for the 8 minute brilliance of ‘The Bridge’ alone….

Released 15th January 2016

Stand out track – The Bridge

Buy Casualties of Cool from Inside Out

 

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Ut New Trolls – e

Italian progressive rock that is incredibly intricate and engrossing. Lock yourself in a darkened room and let the endless combination of notes and distant rhythms create an amazing union of classical and rock music. A record where the language doesn’t matter, it is the intent of the words that is obvious and draws you deep into this incredible album.

Released 24th November 2015

Stand out track – Oggi Non Sono Spento

Buy ‘e’ from self

 

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Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – When The Kill Code Fails

The second promotional release that I found in my email inbox, ‘When The Kill Code Fails’ sounded very intriguing. A science fiction/artificial intelligence themed concept album, it is the second release from the London based rock band with a great name Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate and is described as proggy, funky and sometimes poignant. Expressive vocals and a pared back sound give it a real intensive feeling that immediately draws you in. Electronica, prog, bluesy rock and metal all get a look in during its very enjoyable and inventive 56 minute running time.

Released as a download on 15th October 2015

Stand out track – I Still Remember You

Buy on CD and download at CD Baby

 

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Martigan – Distant Monsters

German band Martigan were formed in 1994 and deliver an almost pastoral brand of progressive rock with lilting vocals and a sunny aspect, think Lifesigns meets United Progressive Fraternity and you won’t be far wrong. An engrossing 75 minutes of easy listening progressive rock that just flies past leaving you in quite a relaxed state of mind.
Released 18th December 2015
Stand out track – The Lake