Release Date: Aug 18, 2009
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Experimental
Luminous Night is the first set of new Six Organs Of Admittance material to leap forth from Ben Chasnys' cerebral cortex in 18 months, and what a joy it is. With the release of odds-and-sods collection RTZ earlier in the year there to bridge the gap between 2007s Shelter From The Ash it doesn't seem like he's been away for long per se but for serious Chasny-heads a new album is something to get pretty excited about and with his other musical outlet Comets On Fire either on extended hiatus or split for good (answers on a postcard please!). This collection of eight songs is his best and most realised work since 2005's School Of The Flower, an album where his unique vision seemed to take a step forward in its application.
School of the Flower, my first encounter of Six Organs of Admittance, was the kind of listening experience that filled a void I’d never actually felt. Pensive and mystical, folky yet at times nearly ambient, that record followed me on snow-scuffled walks to winter’s end. It was a work of chilling comfort, where the instrumentation – not just the lyrics – communicated an ethereal connection with nature, a transition from the isolation of winter to the fruits of spring.
Ben Chasny, main man behind Six Organs of Admittance, has been crafting his swirling noise-folk for long enough for us to wonder how he manages to keep it sounding so fresh. Luminous Night serves as an answer to that question. The album can be hushed and secretive, drawing you into Chasny's curling voice and pastoral guitar tones. Or it can be a massive cacophony of giant hiss-and-crackle soundscapes.
There are, broadly speaking, two kinds of heavy. There’s the heavy that pounds you around the temples with pugilistic riffs, the sort that metal bands sweat long nights tweaking mixing desks in order to perfect. Ben Chasny knows that heavy – lord, you must have seen just how he treated that fretboard in san francisco jam monsters Comets On Fire.
With “Actaeon’s Fall (Against the Hounds)”, Six Organs of Admittance’s Luminous Night begins on a deceptively cheerful note. Couched in the medieval idiom, the song would be excellent background music for your next Dungeons and Dragons game. The pleasing, grandmother-friendly mix of viola, flute, and acoustic guitar (which is complemented by six repeating electric guitar notes periodically throughout the song), is so subtle and beguiling that only the most careful listeners will recognize the suggestion of darkness that comes to bear on all that follows.
Ben Chasny is one of the more prolific musicians of the last decade. He's released one or two albums each year since 1998 under his Six Organs of Admittance banner, plus a bunch of EPs, one-offs, and 7"s, and because that didn't keep him busy enough, he's also worked with Comets on Fire, Badgerlore, and Current 93. It could be argued that he's done more than anyone to establish, develop, and fuel this whole modern freak-folk thing, even if his profile has never risen as high as some of his peers'.