‘Casualties of Cool’
(Out now on Pledge Music)
YOU’VE GOT TO HAND IT TO DEVIN TOWNSEND. This latest incarnation in a prolific career to date feels like an escape. An emotional diary that swings back and forth from ambient moon-age atmospherics to shuffling Bluesy-Folk filled ballads. There’s a distinct ebb and flow in the moods that are explored on an album, you need to remind yourself, has been made by one of the foremost figures in the heavy Metal sphere. It’s a credit to his artistry, and the luxuriant vocals of Che Aimee Dorval, that these emotional rythmns are maintaned with such consistency across such an expansive body of work. Although there are synergies, Casualties of Cool is in stark contrast to ’12s Epicloud and probably more closely matched to the introspection of ’01s Terria or ’09s Ki.
Opening with the warm swirling rush of ‘Daddy’, Townsend and Dorval sweep the listener along on a delicate wave of strings and propulsive drums, before ‘Mountaintop’ pushes the pace forward in irresistable fashion, vaguely reminiscent of Massive Attack’s Heligoland period. Then things slow down with the hypnotic ‘Flight’ and the sultry twilight atmospherics of ‘The Code’, fading in and out, while ‘Ether’ and ‘Moon’ are wide open, unburdened creative spaces that serve to inspire and intoxicate. After so much cathartic emotion there are vacuous moments of freeform climate and character, that drone and only fill a void between abstractions. So ‘Forgive Me’ comes as a welcome relief, all syrupy liquid sunshine, delicate and languid, full of whistful yearning, almost contradictory to the hallucinogenic ‘Deathscope’. Overall CoC is a staggering testimony to Townsend’s originality and talents as a songwriter. No one else even comes close and this is unlike most releases you’re likely to hear this year. (8)