For Devin Townsend, 'Casualties of Cool' is more than just the latest release of a prolific career to-date. You probably know him as the founder of Strapping Young Lad, you might have Steve Vai's Sex & Religion, which features the Canadian Metal star on vocals, or the countless other releases he's put his name to.
But you can forget all that for now. For Townsend, 'Casualties of Cool' is an escape - from over 20 years of relentless productivity, of the pre-conceptions of him that come with being one of the biggest names in his sphere.
'Mountaintop' is the first video from the 'Casualties of Cool' album, directed by Jessica Cope, Devin had the following to say, "here is the video for Mountaintop, from Casualties of Cool. I have been a fan of Jessica Cope's work for a while now, and the opportunity to work with her rose for this album and we are thrilled with the result."
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He continues; "Although the concept of the video is loosely based on the concept of the record, we found it worked better as a stand alone piece. Ché Aimee Dorval and I therefore decided not to have the characters in the video portray us personally. I hope you enjoy this, I'm so happy to have an opportunity to work with brilliant artists in the career. I'm very proud of this album and video!"
A project over four years in the making, largely at night when home from turning the dial up for the day job in the studio, 'Casualties of Cool' has seen Townsend look at himself in order to go forward.
Digging out a battered old Fender amp and telecaster, he revisited the rootsy country and North American folk music of his youth. It provides the backbone of the album that's eventually come to fruition, opening with 'Daddy's' shuffling percussion and bluesy finger-picked motif, resurfacing during 'The Code's' sultry twilight atmospherics and 'Forgive Me's' hushed ambience.
It's a subtly applied but vital part of this record, providing the bones for the flesh to hang from. "My childhood was full of that type of music," says Townsend. "At Christmas my grandfather would insist on the whole family sitting around singing uncomfortably along to Johnny Cash songs and Irish stuff like the Clancy Brothers. It was a big part of my childhood, it's not like I'm putting on a new hat here."
For Townsend, the themes of the record surround what he believes to be a bridge in his career; an acceptance of the artist he is today and embracing the fear of leaving behind what people know of him.
Driven simply by the desire to see how things unfolded, free of the usual recording contract constraints and subsequent limits on time, it's apt that Townsend stumbled on a supporting cast of similarly wandering souls, all revelling in their own sense of outsiderdom.
The luxuriant vocals of Ché Aimee Dorval have draped themselves over a previous Townsend release - 2009's Ki - and so it was perhaps no surprise that the two would find their way back to each other. Keen to keep spontaneity through every process of Casualties... creation, he refused to explain the meanings of the lyrics sent to the singer, while also encouraging her to pen her own for other tracks.
"I liked the idea of the concept of the record being rooted in a duality where two people are meeting at a crossroads," he explains. Recorded by Aimee herself on her laptop, her voice is as important as the shuffling folk that permeates the record, in acting as a glue for the whole thing - her wistful tones hold together constructs so freeform at times they might disintegrate.
The self-titled album is out now.
17th August - Beautiful Days Festival, Devon
4th September - Union Chapel, London