After a few exceptionally long years full of personal change and near manic levels of creative activity, Canadian musician Devin Townsend releases his follow-up to 2019’s well-received ‘Empath’ in the form of his new release: ‘LIGHTWORK’
Assembled from a barrage of material written during the pandemic, ‘LIGHTWORK’ (and its companion album of B-sides and demos; ’Nightwork’) represents Devin at this stage of his life, post- pandemic, and his reflections on what he (and many of us) all gone through.
Throughout the 30 years or so Devin has been working professionally as a musician, he has had a sort of ‘internal checklist’ of projects he has wanted to attempt. From the film project for ‘The Puzzle’, the heavy metal puppet show of ‘Ziltoid The Omniscient,’ or the upcoming Broadway-style musical ‘The Moth’, his process is often the same; take the current selection of material written during any given period and run them through a ‘filter’ that ticks boxes off on this internal checklist.
For Lightwork, Devin decided to see what would happen if he included a producer (an experiment he has been excited to attempt for some time) to help guide this selection of material. He chose long-time friend GGGarth (Richardson) to help bring this idea to fruition, and through a difficult (but wonderful) process, the next Devin albums have been delivered.
Conceptually, it seems that much of the material from artists in a post-pandemic world deals with society, control, and topics on a community level, and although Lightwork certainly has aspects of that, it’s much more based around personal revelations on Devin’s side.
Like most of us, Devin went through a series of unique life experiences over the past few years, hit 50 years old, and recognized the need to address things on a personal level in order to try and pick up the pieces and make progress moving forward.
The name ‘Lightwork’ represents the music, as well as the act of creating music, as a kind of ‘light in the dark’ while trying to navigate the seemingly endless challenges that life can often present. When things seem like there’s no way out’ or that a situation becomes seemingly insurmountable, the connection to music, family, and creativity became a light in the dark that ended up in a wonderful little album.
This recording, like all his work, is simply a snapshot of time. And while every time is different, this period had a certain unique collision of song focused melodic music, combined with abstract sound design. This energy, melancholy, and an oddly relaxed nature was captured with the guidance of GGGarth as he pushed Devin to explore certain aspects of his music and sound design that pushed him out of his comfort zone.
In the long run, Lightwork became an emotionally healthy representation of self-exploration and sound which became creatively available to Devin during this extraordinary period.
The success of this record (for Devin on a personal level) is that through such chaotic experiences, the music remained calm at its centre. The hope is that others can benefit from the work that went into keeping it as such.
What Devin hoped to Achieve with Lightwork was not as much a ‘chart-topping album’, but more an album that describes the process of stepping out of one’s comfort zone, facing various long-held fears, and ultimately becoming confident enough as a person and an artist to find and impose boundaries.
…To know who you are and to be ok with that.
As difficult of a process as Lightwork was, it may end up being one of the most important creative moments of his life and set the stage for what comes next. Maybe Lightwork is best described as a ‘bridge between two continents
Lightwork was consciously written about taking a hard look at where we are as people after a profound time in history and then taking real care to focus our future energies on what is truly important to us in light of that. Friends, health, family, creativity, time off, not running from the fear, not allowing other people’s expectations to define us, creative freedom and self-care.
‘Doing the difficult work to begin to know who we truly are, makes it so that during periods of unrest, we can maintain a certain degree of peace’.