Release Date: Nov 20, 2015
Record label: Drag City
With the invention of his “Hexadic” system of composition, Ben Chasny has sacrificed Six Organs of Admittance to a higher power. The system, introduced earlier this year on his last album, combines minimal process music and occult card-reading tactics to produce specific chords, phrases, timings, and even lyrics, resulting in a songwriting method that pulls forth music from the ether of chaos. Up until now, Chasny has made his claim as one of the most distinctive guitarists in folk music, but the Hexadic method strips Six Organs of Admittance of any individual language whatsoever — these songs were determined by a deck of cards, not Chasny.
Several years ago, after tiring of the predictable patterns he sensed himself settling into as a guitar player, Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance decided to design a theoretical framework that would force his hands into different positions. Chasny distributed a deck of poker cards in a circular array of sets of six, corresponding to the notes of the guitar. The relative positions of the cards gave Chasny a "tonal field" in which to operate, as well as a set of notes from which to pick, some indication of time and tempo, and lyrical rules for the songs themselves.
Leave it to Ben Chasny to create a system for cutting loose. Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance records, to this point, have represented an extended lesson in ducking expectation. Though they may all have the same meditative vibe, there are no two Six Organs of Admittance records alike. The impressionistic layers of records like Dark Noontide made way for the masterfully spacious School of the Flower, a record that could in no way set up the psych-rock expanses of The Sun Awakens, and so on.
Six Organs of Admittance — Hexadic II (Drag City)Hexadic II is, as the title implies, Ben Chasny’s second album to employ his card-based composition process. The exact mechanics of this process are still not completely clear to me, despite a fair amount of discussion on the Six Organs website, but the intent is straightforward: to break the musician out of old habits through a chance-driven series of creative inputs. The first Hexadic album, released earlier this year, worked this system on a dissonant, heavily amplified set of songs, so that what you mostly noticed as different was volume, not structure.Hexadic II employs an acoustic palette, so that the timbres in play are familiar to Six Organs aficionados.
With his Hexadic works, Ben Chasny has been making bold attempts to move away from the hermetically-crafted, multifaceted sound usually cultivated under his Six Organs moniker. Though always exploratory, there was certainly an element of cosiness around his spiritual acid-folk, from its grounding in exquisite open-tuned guitar figures to his use of anchoring, immersive drones. Hexadic, and now Hexadic II find him cast completely adrift from such moorings, with Chasny now relying on a self-developed, card-based aleatoric compositional system to create the notes and phrasings for the albums.