Posts Tagged ‘Six Organs of Admittance’

Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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Six Organs of Admittance

There’s always a need to celebrate when a new Six Organs gem tumbles down the belt, and his latest Companion Rises sees Ben back in fine form. Shedding the constrictions of his Hexadic system, which marked his last couple of releases, the album is locked back into the smoggy-eyed smolder that marks some of 6-orgs’ best works, though this time around he’s subbing a crinkled dose of technology in place of splicing tape and overdubbing percussive takes though the night. While there’s always the possibility of hampering the formula and making it feel like a digital copy of a copy that’s somehow both too crisp and yet still off-center, the addition of programing sits seamlessly into Chasny’s style. The programmed percussion still lollops with the same skitter those old hand drums did and that’s part of what makes it click.

Atop the patter of virtual sticks, Chasny lets the guitars do what they do best in the context of Six Organs – they tangle into ornate nests of notes, they singe themselves with a delicate fury, they rest the ornaments of production in a hammock of six-string security. What’s more he makes synthesizers singe in the same manner, pushing their production to the most organic edges of the mechanical spectrum. They ring and burble like replicant technologies, hardly aware they aren’t grown from the ground. When Chasny fuses the future with the past his bio-organic burn feels like an evolution of sound – nylon strings bending around in circular paths that lead forever down in repeated loops of copper wire and crushed circuits. The spark of guitar fury is still there like a wick bound to set the songs aflame and the blaze is beautiful – full of warmth, subtle flickers of orange and yellow, and an ashen ending that feels transformative.



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Six Organs of Admittance – “Haunted and Known”

Breaking away from his run of Hexadic records, Ben Chasny returns to the fold as Six Organs of Admittance, knocking loose the ash from the air with his psych-folk slink. There’s no incendiary burn on “Haunted and Known,” just the slow stalk of Chasny’s guitar and an undercurrent of creeping unease. The track is consumed by fuzzed orchestration as it works on, pulling the listener under the oceanic pulse of Chasnys writing. The song, along with the previously released “Two Forms Moving” separate themselves from Chasny’s recent efforts, eschewing the hard-to-penetrate complexity of Hexadic and the clear-cut singe of “Burning the Threshold.” There’s a calmer veneer, even when the menace envelops the edges. This is a languid look at Six Organs and it feels like a balm on a bad year. The record is out 2/21 on Drag City.




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Mixtape: We Bleed Love

Its been a few months since the last mixtape and seems about time for another genre dive. This time the recent reissues of Ivytree and Skygreen Leopards material had me nostalgic for some of the very records that started this site over a decade ago. At the time the unfortunate ‘freak folk’ term got thrown around a lot by, well mostly writers who just couldn’t think up a better term. The ensuing resurgence of psychedelic folk and free folk (see that’s better) delved into the CD-r and small press worlds to see several of the home taped community elevated to indies like Jagjaguwar and Drag City, while carving out new ground for Young God, Language of Stone, 5RC, Gnomonsong and Three Lobed. I’ve scooped up an overview of some of my favorite moments from this movement of the early aughts and a prefect primer to the oncoming summer months. Check out the tracklist and listen below.

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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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Six Organs Of Admittance

Following on the heels of Ben Chasny’s experimental Rubik, Hexadic, he returns to the smokey, raw emotion of records like like School of the Flower or The Sun Awakens. The album, for the most part, steers its way shy of the guitar explosions that collided Six Organs with elements of Comets on Fire and instead focuses on the soft touch and texture of Chasny’s songcraft. On those two particular records, he honed the beauty in his work, sanded the raw edges and focused the froth of emotion through the tangle of strings and his own cedar smoke drawl. The next phase would bring fire, and while the fire was satisfying, there’s something inherently interesting about calm laced with the haunt of pain. That element has returned with eperience on Burning The Threshold.

Chasny’s voice is high and present in the mix, putting the focus on the man, rather than any hint of din rising around him. The only noise seeping through on many songs is the light flutter of tape hiss that wraps the songs in a Kodachrome weather of age. Largely, it’s just Ben and his guitar, recorded cavernous and enveloping, as if the listener is observing from inside the instrument itself. As the record builds to a peak, he strides outside of the lone troubadour mode for the standout, “Taken By Ascent,” which acts as a single focal point for the full release of the tensions bubbling throughout the album. Where every other track is building and aching, “Ascent” is the moment when there’s a flash of menace in the eyes, a wounded bristling that turns dangerous but rides the rise into a tense bout of prog-laced psych without exploding into noise.

After the track simmers to a close the album returns to the lonesome and even wistful modes of the closing numbers, picking up some of the same solemnity of that preceded the row on “Ascent.” There are no other glimmers of that tension on the album, but collected as an arc, it plays well as an argument for albums in a renewed age of singles. The songs are all inherently interesting apart, but when stacked into the tableau that Chasny has assembled, they create something bigger than any of the pieces. Six Organs has a deep catalog, but this easily stands out as a high water mark in a lifetime littered with gems.




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Rangda – “The Sin Eaters”

Man the psych video hits just keep coming this week. I’ve already expressed some love for Randa’s excellent album The Heretic’s Bargain and now the band have an additional reason to love it in the form of a stop motion collage video from Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers). Full of cultist imagery and pacing well with the song’s dark tones, the video is a psychedelic pop-up book for our amusement. If you haven’t delved into the rest of Rangda’s album, is about damn time.

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Rangda

Three albums in and Rangda is still a dream trio of players, so wholly versed in their instruments that it seems hard to believe that they coalesce so rightfully. For fans of Sir Richard Bishop, his fingers are all over this one, quite literally, and a lot of the melodies on The Heretic’s Bargain play like Bishop solo tracks on steroids. The fluidity and frantic pace of strings is there, but electrified and given chase by Chasney’s guitar and Corsano’s expert beat. Songs are built on the rapid heart-skip of fingerpicks, but as proven on “The Sin Eaters” and the epic closer “Mondays Are Free At The Hermetic Museum” the group is built for the psychedelic breakdown, devolving those sprightly melodies into a blur of sticks and picks and squalls of feedback that threaten to consume time itself. There’s always been a quality to Bishop’s melodies that I think would lend itself to soundtrack work, as if he’s always composing scenes in his head, with the the guitar quickening footsteps down a hallway or poking its head around the corner trepedatiously. Here he invokes that same cinematic quality, only to add a more urgent sense of catastrophe in the corrosive breakdowns. The characters here might quicken their steps, but its likely in a chase away from unseen demons that win out in the end. Rangda is and has always been a behemoth and on their latest they prove that they’ll keep banging ’til they bring it all down around them.

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Six Organs of Admittance – Dust and Chimes

This one’s still a little fresh in the ears for this column, but what the hell the turn of this last century is probably further off than I want to admit. It seems just around the corner that the clock ticked 2000 and Ben Chasney was picking his way into a second album, emblazoned then with a washed out photo cover that’s replaced with a much more appropriate woodsy backdrop on the new version. Dark Noontide would forever be the moment when Chasney broke into a wider consciousness but this predecessor really brings him into his own and out of the sketchbook patterns of his debut. Its a lush album built on a love of raga and Fahey and feeling very much in line with the trend down psych-folk inroads at the time. Being that this was released in the vinyl desert years it only apeared on CD at the time, leaving fans of Ben’s catalog with a hole to fill on the turntable. But now Holy Mountain’s gotten this on the table and ready for psych fanatics the world over. Complete with a new video here for “Blue Sun Chiming” by Magik Markers’ Elisa Ambrogio.

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