Release Date: Aug 21, 2012
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On record, Ben Chasny has tended towards the acoustic when performing under the guise of Six Organs Of Admittance. Occasional spasms of electrifying fretwork have sparked into life on previous records, and his playing could hardly be described as gentle, but until now the best way to hear Chasny in full on freak out mode has been live or as a part of his other band, Comets On Fire. He’s certainly making up for the lack of heavy dosage riffing on this, the thirteenth Six Organs...
Do you miss proper guitar solos? Do you yearn for the days when drummers were encouraged to whack, thrash and DESTROY their cymbals? Have you always known that Ben Chasny’s SOAA would sound waaaaay trippier if he and Santa Cruz quintet Comets On Fire stopped flirting and sealed the deal to make a proper album together? Then this is your party time. Tracks like ‘Close To The Sky’ and ‘Even If You Knew’ are sprawling, squawking, shrieking examples of elongated psych-rock and gigantic fretwork, while ‘They Called You Near’ is a meditative drone. Get lost in the haze.James Anderson .
Following the muted, pastoral Americana of 2010's Asleep on the Floodplain, the ever-shifting Six Organs of Admittance took another abrupt turn on Ascent, with the band’s only mainstay, Ben Chasney, pulling out some of his more heroic guitar moves for an album of sprawling full electric band exploration. The album is very much in the rock tradition with Chasney indulging in raging guitar solos over equally pummeling tunes that fall between extended blues-rock jams and spaced-out psychedelia. Following "Waswasa," a relentless and jagged instrumental that opens the album, the band breaks into "Close to the Sky" with a rumbling midtempo bassline and a sprawling desert-invoking landscape reminiscent of the Doors at their trippiest, pushed even further in that druggy direction by Chasney's warbling vocals, sounding beamed in from a distant planet.
Six Organs of AdmittanceAscent[Drag City; 2012]By Joshua Pickard; August 29, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetBen Chasny has been tinkering around with his own style of amorphous acoustic experimentation as Six Organs of Admittance for going on 15 years now. In fact, he’s been at it for so long that it’s hard to picture the man without at least thinking about him holding an acoustic guitar, hands languidly curling notes off into some vague musical ether. The fact that he, along with other notable artists in his field such as Sir Richard Bishop and James Blackshaw, has been able to continually release engaging and exciting music in what could be considered a fairly narrow genre is a testament to his ingenuity and creative drive.
Ascent, the latest Drag City album by Ben Chasny's prolific Six Organs of Admittance, opens with "Waswasa" and a full-bodied electric riff that's about as delicate as kickstarting a vintage Harley. From that first moment on, the album makes plain that Chasny has made another of his trademark directional shifts, this time affording himself a backward glance before training his eyes back to the horizon. The album represents Chasny's semi-reunion with Comets on Fire, the much-beloved acid/noise group which has been on extended hiatus since 2008.
Enigmatic one-man production machine Ben Chasny releases, at the very least, one album a year under the Six Organs of Admittance moniker. With his fourteenth studio release, the humble workaholic collaborated with noise miscreants Comets on Fire -- resulting in sludgy latest album Ascent. Gone is the feverish reverence present in The Sun Awakens and Luminous Night’s droning mantras.
Ben Chasny is one of those dudes that you can’t picture without a guitar in his hands. Whether he’s ripping apart a roaring electric solo or strumming out a fireside drone, the notes seem to ripple out of his fingers organically. Chasny uses that natural power to propel a handful of projects, most notably the noisy psychedelia of Comets on Fire and droning folk outfit Six Organs of Admittance.
Anyone reaching for the mantle of "guitar hero" in 2012, and not fiddling a long piece of plastic with coloured buttons on it, is bound to be an anachronism. Or so I thought, until I discovered that Six Organs of Admittance, a band I'd been hearing about for 10 years or so but never heard, was fronted by such a man out of time who'd been getting plenty of Indie street cred all the while. Then I found out that this man, Ben Chasny, also was responsible for the old-school, hammer of the gods riffing on the Comets on Fire album, Blue Cathedral, and it all began to make sense.
Those looking for blissful or unsettling drone-folk should turn back now. Ascent contains no long-form acoustic improvisations, no noisy abstract epics, no haunting ballads (well, maybe one). In their place is a blistering assault of face-melting solos, heavy psych riffage, and vocals soaring above it all. Ben Chasny’s guitar work on Ascent is some of his most immediately impressive to date, and with his backing compatriots from Comets on Fire, Chasny climbs the stairways that lead to the summits of psychedelia, pausing only briefly to address the spirits before completing his ascent.
Ben Chasny’s success as a musician is closely linked to the acoustic guitar. Classic Six Organs of Admittance records, like Dark Noontide or School of the Flower, rely heavily on Chasny’s impressive acoustic stylings, which draw more than a few lines to John Fahey’s Tacoma School or Robbie Basho or contemporaries like the late great Jack Rose. Chasny’s success and the sound of his band are not, however, solely linked to the acoustic guitar.
Ben Chasny vehicle Six Organs of Admittance has been tagged "new folk," and the acoustic elements, gentle drones, and low-key vocals of 2011's Asleep on the Floodplain amply supported that description. Those anticipating the release of Ascent based on Chasny's approach with Floodplain, depending on their tastes, may come to see his last album as jarring misdirection or the new one as a wickedly welcome change of pace. .
Six Organs mainstay Ben Chasny has become one of the high shamen of the US psychedelic underground, disseminating his hairy vision between at least three bands and a couple of genres over the past decade. His umpteenth album begins with a sonic white-out called Waswasa – a thrilling myocardial infarction of guitar more in keeping with another of his bands, Comets on Fire, who are, in fact, on board here. How Chasny tells his sprawling, incandescent guitar solos apart, we may never know; this is an album for frenziedly colouring outside the lines.
Throughout his ultra-prolific recording career, Ben Chasny has never shied away from guitar heroics, but he's mostly channelled them into acoustic fingerpicking and folky songcraft for his solo Six Organs of Admittance project. On Ascent he finally drags a backing band, heavy psych-rockers Comets on Fire, into the studio with him, and it gives his music a serious kick in the ass. There are still elements of meditative drone and hippified folk, but when Chasny and his mates plug in and let loose, like on blistering wah-pedal-drenched opener Waswasa, the result is a propulsive, scorching, fret-burning new sound that makes you wonder why he hasn't been doing this all along.
One assumes that SOOA lynchpin Ben Chasny is often asked when/if there will be a new Comets on Fire album. Chasny's sky scraping psychedelic project with Ethan Miller (of Howlin Rain) and friends has been dormant since 2006, but as Ascent begins its climb, something fuzzy and arch seems to be stirring. The explanation is simple: Comets alumni join Chasny to make this (13th!) SOOA album a volatile mash-up of the best both projects have to offer.
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