Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Levi Chen/Devocean

The wordplay in the album title isn’t the only cleverness that Levi Chen is capable of. A chart staple on New Age radio programming, Chen almost doesn’t belong in the genre. While the compositions on Devocean do have the meditative, atmospheric qualities that define New Age, Chen colors beyond the boundaries, so to speak. What Devocean is actually progressive-rock masterpiece that uses New Age simply as frosting. Much of that has to do with Chen’s impeccable guitar playing which suggests an older Jimi Hendrix discovering Zen. Chen doesn’t indulge in axeman heroics; his guitars create layers of sound and imagery that will awaken all of your senses.

If all this sounds a tad intellectual, it can be appreciated for its surface beauty, too. The lovely “Memory (DNA)” has a sweeping, theatrical rush that’ll leave you breathless. “Sound and Recent Sorrow” delves into light funk with some of Chen’s most fiery guitar playing. On “Brios” and “New Edge,” Chen has taken off into another dimension, taking us on a dreamy flight of transcendent awe. Chen uses several musical genres at his disposal – New Age, progressive rock, Latin music, jazz, blues, rock – and fuses them together without a moment’s hesitation. It’s an exhilarating, spellbinding work of pure genius.