Genre Lasagne, Devin Townsend - Empath - Genesis

Genre Lasagne, Devin Townsend - Empath - Genesis
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#1

I hope this is in the right category. I thought it represented Indie Music, as it doesn’t seem mainstream at all. I think it’s Inside Out Music (record label).

I had heard of Devin Townsend but wasn’t familiar with his music at all. It seems he’s quite a “metal” guy and has toured the world over many years (he’s from Vancouver I think). But he’s created quite a diverse album with “Empath” and Genesis seems to be a prime track off that.

I’m calling it Genre Lasagne, for lack of a better term. :grin: As Mr Spock would say … “Fascinating!”


#3

Devin Townsend may just be the greatest unknown artist around today. I heard of him back in the 90’s when Steve Van formed the group Vai, and released his “Sex and Religion” album (which is brilliant). He talked about this “crazy Canadian kid” who could had a killer voice. Indeed, he has a ridiculously crazy voice, from ballad to opera to death metal. He’s really a one of a kind. Apparently he’s a heck of a guy in real life, and if I’m not mistaken, really has nothing to do with the music industry in a conventional sense. For the members here, I’ll link to a few videos that show what his versatility, both as a guitarist and vocalist:

From the Vai album (1993)

Devin Townsend may just be the greatest unknown artist around today. I heard of him back in the 90’s when Steve Van formed the group Vai, and released his “Sex and Religion” album (which is brilliant). He talked about this “crazy Canadian kid” who could had a killer voice. Indeed, he has a ridiculously crazy voice, from ballad to opera to death metal. He’s really a one of a kind. Apparently he’s a heck of a guy in real life, and if I’m not mistaken, really has nothing to do with the music industry in a conventional sense. For the members here, I’ll link to a few videos that show what his versatility, both as a guitarist and vocalist:

From the Vai album (1993)

From 2005, and his group Strapping Young Lad (I’m really not a fan of this period)

A really popular video of him playing live (over 3M views). It also showcases his personality quite well

If all that heavy stuff was too much for you, this is from his amazingly beautiful Casualties of Cool album. Very highly recommended.


#4

Devin Townsend is such an interesting thing to me. I can’t listen to him in large doses, but when I need ideas, I go to his stuff first. My favorite albums are Z2 and Ki.


#5

Massive DT fan here… like @madpsychot I first heard him playing with Vai… saw them in Toronto on that tour. He was this insane 18 or 19 year old kid, climbing all over the rigging in the venue, but then coming down and singing perfectly, and doubling/harmonizing Vai’s lines on the guitar.
He’s done some pretty weird stuff, some of it I’m not a big fan of, but when looking at his catalog as a whole, in my opinion he’s one of those few people you can legitimately call a musical “genius”. I’ve seen a lot of people compare him to Zappa in that regard.

Still not sure about this new one… I’ve been following his studio vlogs and it seems this is a very different process for him than how he usually does records. Like a lot of his stuff, it’ll probably take a few listens before I really start to catch the nuances. That video is epic though!

This is probably my current favorite track of his… may not be everyone’s cup o’ tea but it’s one of the more generally accessible songs in his catalog.


#6

Genre Lasagna describes it well. In times quite schlocky and derivative at other times uber progressive.

I did follow him briefly in SYL but just can’t stand more than 1-2 mins of his work now. Live he uses boatload of samples and prerecorded tracks and his performance at a festival took 45mins to reboot the syncing PC :slight_smile: That’s just not musicianship to me.


#7

Yes, I’m fascinated by his alter-ego stage persona, he seems ‘possessed’ at times. Great voice too. I watched a few interviews with him (recent) and his normal personality is almost the opposite of his stage presence. I believe the title of the album, “Empath”, has to do with him realizing some things about himself in terms of sensitivity and imagination.

I found it very inspiring too. I felt like his expression gave me a license to get a lot more experimental.

I was amazed I hadn’t heard more about him, he’s had a lengthy and productive career, though his edginess doesn’t seem to lend itself to commerciality (?). More of an artist with a “cult following”?

Part of what got my attention was what he talked about in interviews. He talked about being a father, being married a long time, and some life changes/crap that impacted him. I think he’s at about the age of the mid-life crisis. I felt a fundamental shift in his outlook (as best I could tell, not knowing much about him before), a more humble and mature realization of himself and the world, while also realizing that his own nature (empath) informs how he takes in all the craziness of the world around him and turns it into art.


#8

Edginess??? Please…he just did some weird stuff, like combining opera with a 7/8 riff followed by death metal. That gets old even before the 1st song. If you want edginess, check out Watain.


#9

Really? we’re going to do the metal wiener wagging? I thought the world got past that about 20 years ago.


#10

Sadly in the metal “community”, it never stopped.


#11

Well…just mentioning that Devin Townsend in metal terms is actually quite tame :slight_smile:


#12

My threshold for edginess is probably much lower than yours. :wink: I don’t care for black metal at all.

Ha, yeah I try to not compare bands, especially in a better/worse context. I try to just take each artist on their own merits.

It’s not even the metal genre aspect that I found particularly interesting, it was this “genre lasagne” - forging layers of genres together that felt more edgy to me. I thought it was very courageous for him to do that, because you know there will be backlash from some critics. And from what I can tell, he’s not just making music to make a ‘statement’, or sell records … he’s really exploring his inner world, his mind and emotions, his “psyche”, his life experiences - and being quite vulnerable about it in many ways - which is also quite courageous. I’d like to see more of that.


#13

I’m not a metal fan per se although I do like some of what I am hearing. Watain are very skilled musicians with an amazing stage show. ( Who pays their fire insurance?!) But I’m not hearing anything new about what they are doing here. Heavy drums, distorted guitars, ‘cookie monster’ vocals and lots of head banging, which has been around since @feaker played his first power chord. (He may have invented it, he doesn’t like to brag :smile: )

I guess it depends on how you define ‘edgy’. Anyone who can hang with Steve Vai deserves respect and Devin Townsend is obviously an excellent singer . Gotta like the ‘genre lasagna’ terminology, but just off the top of my head ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ 1975 had some of that.

Great thread though, I didn’t know either artist(s), good thoughts from all posters!


#14

Oh, absolutely! That was probably the landmark event for Genre Lasagne, although “Hocus Pocus” by Focus did introduce it a bit in 1971. Later in the 70’s, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia did some of that too, but for the most part wasn’t highly commercially successful.

And speaking of Utopia, if you have 18 minutes of free ear time, this is one of the most epic examples of Genre Lasagne I can think of, with the possible exception of Bohemian Rhapsody.


#15

If you like your lasagna with a side order of “WTF??”, there’s always Mr. Bungle. For the uninitiated, this is one of the many side projects of Mike Patton, of Faith No More:



#16

I’ve heard the name “Devin Townsend” for many years but never really knew what he did. The video in the original post is pretty entertaining and there’s some good musical skills displayed in the audio. I don’t tend to be very awed by technical musical ability as much as I used to. If there’s a good song in there, then I’ll stick around and see what else the artist has to offer. I’d give this Devin guy a thumbs up from what I’ve heard, even if his music isn’t something I would become particularly taken by. The guy clearly has something to offer. I’ll probably check out more of his music sometime in the future…Although I’ve become pretty lackadaisical about seeking out new music. Sometimes it feels like nothing is new. Like everything has been done. That’s probably just my jaded frame of mind though.


#17

I didn’t know ‘Mr Bungle’, but he’s very creative and inventive with a large collection of different styles. It takes a lot of work and skill to assemble and produce something like this, and it is very interesting material, but it has the shortcoming of not allowing the listener to get into any one section before jumping to something else which can be frustrating for me at least.

So then I thought, “How could they possibly do this live?” Well they did do live shows and did them quite well it turns out. And playing live forced them to have more continuity and development of the material, which to my ear at least, made it a lot more enjoyable. And, makes me think of Frank Zappa, clearly an influence. At least check out the opening number of this clip for a WTF moment!

Thanks @blairhall1974 !


#18

I was at the Toronto stop on this tour… crazy show, they took every song they played off their records and completely changed the styles and arrangements, with just enough cues from the originals so you knew what song it was… which infuriated a LOT of people who went to hear the songs on the albums… but it was still a pretty amazing experience.


#19

Ah, very cool! I loved that FNM song “Epic” when it came out, I watched the video on MTV with tremendous zeal. Great vocal style and musical ideas on that one. The Mr Bungle stuff is certainly very weird, but I love the song titles!


#20

Faith No More is my favourite of the real quirky bands. Most of their R’n’B stuff turns me off and I’ll skip through that, but I enjoy a lot of their music.