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HiRez Poll Townsend, Devin - EMPATH [Blu-Ray Audio]

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Rate the BDA of Devin Townsend - EMPATH

  • 7

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 5

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 1: Terrible Content, Surround Mix, and Fidelity

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    19

4-earredwonder

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
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13,963
I had another full listen to this tonight. The music is certainly growing on me as I get to understand it, and there are some really superb and immense themes in the there. I'm left wanting to play it more, which is a good sign.

His 5.1 mix is actually much more discrete than I first gave it credit for, but it appears to me to be mixed very differently from the norm. It's like he's "micro-mixed" the phrases and sections that make up the songs across the surround field, rather than the more usual approach of mixing tracks/instruments to discrete channels. It works well for his "wall of sound" type of music, but it can sound like a (very good) upmix rather than a more "traditional" discrete mix.

Going to have to listen more before casting judgement, but it's now at least an eight. :)
Is it me or is the BD~A, Disc III encoded at a very low level ....????
 

Marplot

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
850
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Neil, watch the doc on his mixing Genesis. He did exactly what you described, moved sections in channels rather than entire instruments. It probably took him 6 hours to mix Genesis from the source to 5.1. His dedication to his vision almost humbles me.
Hell, he mixed destructively and there is no way to recreate his mix live without backing tracks.
I have zero issue with anyone that doesn't dig it, music is personal, but I doubt any MCH fan can watch his process without appreciating it.
 

Neil Palfreyman

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
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Messages
1,253
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Wiltshire, UK
Neil, watch the doc on his mixing Genesis. He did exactly what you described, moved sections in channels rather than entire instruments. It probably took him 6 hours to mix Genesis from the source to 5.1. His dedication to his vision almost humbles me.
Hell, he mixed destructively and there is no way to recreate his mix live without backing tracks.
I have zero issue with anyone that doesn't dig it, music is personal, but I doubt any MCH fan can watch his process without appreciating it.
I haven't watched it yet, but that ties up completely with what I'm hearing. Does he explain why he chose to do it that way? I know (from reading the inserts) that he started off intending to mix from stems, but I thought he abandoned that approach? ...i'm intrigued enough to watch it, maybe later today. I'm not aware of anyone who's tried to mix surround like that.

WRT the music; As I said in an earlier post, I find it truly progressive (in the real sense of the word) - I can hear shades of Muse, Opeth, Dream Theater, The Enid, Pink Floyd ...but he's created a work of art that's actually quite unique.
 

Marplot

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
850
Location
Ohio, USA
To watch him at work is to understand how he transforms the tracks into a copy of what he hears in his head. I'm talking pitch shifting some notes, applying reverb and then panning them front to back to accomplish his vision.
There is no way he could have done that with stems, he uses every track and gets crazy with all of it. He also explains his dislike of compression in recording and how he gets around it. (hint, more destructive edits).
I doubt anyone else mixes surround like that. Heck, he may not do it again. It seems time intensive and certainly not something you could do to music you didn't create.
 

Frans

New member
Joined
May 3, 2012
Messages
6
It's ambitious as hell and highly entertaining. The visuals are far beyond what one would expect from what is essentially a BD-A. There is so much here, that it is hard to grasp it all without using the word epic. Devin is an acquired taste, but this is my favorite of his so far - his soundscape is finally no longer constrained to an unintentional wall of sound 2 ch presentation. I haven't checked the 2ch version out, but why?
 

Marplot

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
850
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I'm with you Frans, it took a long time for me to get into Dev. It was when he released Ki that I finally checked my baggage at the door and said 'OK Dev, I'm along for the ride now, entertain me'. Same thing happened with Wilson, too mellow for me but when I heard a few tracks from Home Invasion it all clicked and I'm a SW/PT fan now also.
 

Marplot

800 Club - QQ All-Star
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Sorry, my point was that he may never mix 5.1 in that manner again; but this is Dev we are talking about and they don't call it Devy Metal for nothing. He does things his way. His next project may have changed. From the cesspool that is Blabbermouth:

Canadian singer, songwriter and producer Devin Townsend has revealed that he is working on a new album
Devin describes the material he has come up with so far as a "weird, alien sounding, effervescent, sunny load of oddness."
Late Monday night (August 3), Townsend took to his Twitter to write: "I think I'm writing an album, unexpectedly, called Lightwork that is abstract and a stream of conscious. Still significantly far away from anything, but it's determinedly taking shape. It's been odd though, as every record is a reflection of the time it was conceived.
"And this is clearly a weird time. It's strange, abstract, meandering and weird. If I try to curb it and write something more disciplined, it would be a dumb rehash of stuff I'm clearly bored of. So I follow this where it wants to go.
"Almost seems like it would make sense for it to be a continuous, shifting, colourful beast as opposed to a collection of songs – more like songs in a highly elaborate and sort of alien stream of conscious: no real beginning or end."
Devin continued: "But regardless: as much as I have tried to shift my motivations from this weird collection of work to something more ‘palatable' it seems clear that this is what's in my path now, so I'm going to finish it in the way that it insists.
"I suppose considering the strange unique intensity of this period, it makes perfect sense when I hear it.
"Anyways, the next album will be called Lightwork and though it's still being discovered, it's a weird, alien sounding, effervescent, sunny load of oddness. Alien as in: 'this makes no traditional sense but seems to have an underlying order'
"Visually, I see a weird kind of muted Winnie The Pooh type landscape with endless processions of characters, objects, people, creatures etc wandering from one side of the page to the other – an endless parade of dissimilar things, and just kind of watching them go by."
 

peterzach

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Since 2002/2003
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1,810
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burnaby bc canada
I haven't rated this and that's a error on my part as what an album and Devin has done very well in deed for his first 5.1 mix. I asked him at a solo show he did over a year ago about this album and the 5.1 he was working on for this and I asked will it be dynamic and discreet and Devin said "Yes' and he is true to his words as the cd output of Devin's in stereo is very wall of sound and pretty compressed but this is not compressed at all so that makes me super happy right there.
The surround still has a bit of wall of sound to it but as 5.1 you do hear so much of all the different sounds and ideas that Devin packs into each song, just wonderful.

This is a 10,10,10 all the way.

Here's review of album for those that want to know more:


by Craig Ellis Bacon

Throughout his long career, Devin Townsend has been an artist that has defied any label or boundary. He toys with expectations and never chooses to make the same album twice, even if it would result in commercial rewards. So it should come as no surprise to his fans that, following years of success with his band, the Devin Townsend Project, he decided it was time to end that outfit and go it alone. He had something new to say and wanted to dive into a new approach, to not bask in the security of the familiar. The result is perhaps his greatest work: Empath. Acting almost as a career retrospective while also exploring new horizons, it is an entire genre of its own, and like its creator, defies label or boundary. Is it metal, classical, alternative, prog? The answer is a definitive yes…and more.

The album is, of course, comprised entirely of new compositions, and the powerful, progressive music is nowise a retread of Devin’s past. It is, however, grounded in the best of works like Ocean Machine, Ghost, Deconstruction, and Transcendence, and the “everything including the kitchen sink—but make it fashion” approach means that Devin can’t make a 180 degree turn going forward. There is simply no one way that he could turn. That coherent eclecticism is a strength that ensures Empath will maintain its relevance, wherever Devin’s artistry takes him next.

Promotions for Empath have emphasized its eclecticism. Indeed, just within the opening 10 minutes the album covers beach sounds and sparkling reverb-drenched electric leads; Hawaiian steel guitar and cherubic women’s choirs; hard rock, progressive metal, funk, EDM, Delta blues, arcade console blip-bloops, Jerry Goldsmith-worthy orchestrations, angular jazz, meows, moos, and more metal. “Genesis” is bonkers in a way that Zappa would interpret as a personal challenge, and it completely works.

From here, Empath could go anywhere, so it does. “Evermore” combines an almost honky tonk-ish approach to heaviness with gooey growls, Epicloud-ish chorale lifts, and melodic hooks that would sound at home on one of Anneke van Giersbergen’s pop albums. “Sprite” is the new age/acid jazz equivalent of a Grimm’s faerie tale (complete with spoken-word poetry) crossed with a Broadway musical. Perhaps nothing exemplifies the diversity of Devin’s musical palette as the juxtaposition of “Hear Me,” an ultra-aggressive dive into death metal and thrash, followed by “Why,” a classically-influenced symphony displaying the incredible vocal prowess Devin possesses. These two songs are simply never found on the same album. “Borderlands” is a mini-epic, a sing-along romp that nearly begs for adaptation into a short film.

Finally, “Requiem” offers a gorgeous bookend to the opening “Castaway,” while simultaneously introducing the side-length “Singularity.” This epic, in turn, encapsulates the feel of the rest of the album, while standing on its own as a mini-album. The production is inexplicably clean and beautiful, in a way something this loud and manic isn’t meant to be. The 23 minute track is simply brilliant, beginning with a delicate opening and taking a strange trip through metal bombast and strange computer noises, culminating in an insane and magnificent final four minutes.

Devin has incorporated fractal imagery into his lyrics before, but Empath builds a self-reflexive ideal into its very structure. Throughout, the album’s theme is comforting in its directness: “Let there be light/Let there be moon/Let there be stars/And let there be you/Let there be monsters/Let there be pain/Let us begin to live again” (“Genesis”), and “Rejoice/And fill your hearts with love/Life begins with you” (“Singularity”). The sound, buoyed by an impressively transparent mix, is similarly up-lifting. The orchestrations are triumphant, the drums invigorating; even the death metal growls are more cathartic than menacing in their primality. If the listener does not hear the entirety of their journey reflected in Empath, they will surely hear something they can recognize as their own experience and encounter bridges to experiences less familiar. They will also encounter the best that Devin Townsend’s music has to offer, and it’s no easy feat to fit that in all on one album.

What defines a great Best of… album? The casual concert-goer should recognize a song or two, as should the peruser of Spotify playlists. Every listener should come away with a framework for understanding the artist’s oeuvre as a whole. But the fan who has everything needs to be thrown at least one curveball, while the truly sublime compilation will cap the proceedings with something new that immediately establishes itself as deserving of inclusion. If the above criteria are correct, then Empath is The Best of Devin Townsend.
 

Neil Palfreyman

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
1,253
Location
Wiltshire, UK
Okay, a couple of months after first posting here, I'm back to cast my vote, and, more importantly, to thank QQ and it's members for drawing my attention to this release and the artist. :) I had never heard any Devin Townsend before coming across this thread on QQ, which, particularly Ian Proudfoot's (Proudfeet ;) ?) comments made me buy it without hearing a note. I'm now waiting for several more albums to arrive.

My background is classic prog, but I've also been drawn to both the more melodic and heavy sides of it; from Uriah Heep, Yes, Black Sabbath, Porcupine Tree, and more recently Opeth and Katatonia, but I'm also a musical "eclectic" and really appreciate those who push the boundaries, whatever the direction.

This album resonates on so many levels! : Devin's song writing, his composition, his lyrics, vocals, orchestration, choral stuff, sheer power, dynamics all combine to give me an excitement and adrenaline rush that I haven't experienced that often since I first started listening to Sabbath, Rainbow and similar. But it also has emotion and an empathy that's really relevant to where we are right now. I've played the album more than any other that I've bought since lock-down, and the hooks and lyrics have stayed with me for a lot longer than I would have expected. Right now I can't get enough.

Add to that; the phenomenal full length hi res video on the Blu Ray, his quite unique (honestly) approach to surround mixing and the huge dynamics (you can play this as loud as you like and it doesn't hurt) and it's at least a ten. I would give more if I could. Highly recommended!
 

bluelightning

500 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
May 14, 2018
Messages
566
Location
Aliso Viejo, CA
Okay, a couple of months after first posting here, I'm back to cast my vote, and, more importantly, to thank QQ and it's members for drawing my attention to this release and the artist. :) I had never heard any Devin Townsend before coming across this thread on QQ, which, particularly Ian Proudfoot's (Proudfeet ;) ?) comments made me buy it without hearing a note. I'm now waiting for several more albums to arrive.

My background is classic prog, but I've also been drawn to both the more melodic and heavy sides of it; from Uriah Heep, Yes, Black Sabbath, Porcupine Tree, and more recently Opeth and Katatonia, but I'm also a musical "eclectic" and really appreciate those who push the boundaries, whatever the direction.

This album resonates on so many levels! : Devin's song writing, his composition, his lyrics, vocals, orchestration, choral stuff, sheer power, dynamics all combine to give me an excitement and adrenaline rush that I haven't experienced that often since I first started listening to Sabbath, Rainbow and similar. But it also has emotion and an empathy that's really relevant to where we are right now. I've played the album more than any other that I've bought since lock-down, and the hooks and lyrics have stayed with me for a lot longer than I would have expected. Right now I can't get enough.

Add to that; the phenomenal full length hi res video on the Blu Ray, his quite unique (honestly) approach to surround mixing and the huge dynamics (you can play this as loud as you like and it doesn't hurt) and it's at least a ten. I would give more if I could. Highly recommended!
Really glad to see a Townsend convert!
 

Marplot

800 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
850
Location
Ohio, USA
I hope that Ki is on your list. It is another departure...very melodic and .. airy but when it grooves it grooves.
 
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