Six Organs of Admittance “Ascent” | Drag City
Ben Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance is one of those projects that definition is only relevant release to release. Heavily drenched in shades of modern folk and experimentalism, Chasny has given the guitar a new identity in the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century through this medium. Six Organs of Admittance normally rely on a minimal display of characteristics where the body of each piece is slowly molded over intervals sometimes with Chasny going solo. This year, Chasny has extended the range of his Six Organs sound with the recording Ascent on Drag City. With a fully realized and exotically charging sound, due mostly in part to the inclusion of many members of Northern California’s Comets on Fire which Chasny is also a group of, Chasny and his colleagues break open a pathway of modern psychedelic that has been for the most part uncharted in years.
High octane solo’s, intricate drum work and enough moments of minimalistic states of rest that reflect Chasny’s past works, Ascent feels like it stops at nothing to hit light speed levels of energy and to give enough dynamics for any fan of headphone music. Comets on Fire have always fueled their sound by high states of energy and the inclusion of Chasny at the helm moves their style in a slightly different direction. The power of the bass, drums and guitars is still present but the voice of Chasny and the interaction of everyone is what makes this collaboration so special and unique from anything both artists have presented. With Comets and Chasny having shared a tour in 2002 along with demo work that never materialized past that state, it was only a matter of time before this type of release was to come forth in the Six Organs of Admittance catalog.
As a big fan of Six Oragns of Admittance, Ascent met every expectation I had and went far beyond what I thought this album would represent. “Close To The Sky” is the kind of track that I can listen to on repeat for hours, with a heavy nod to The Doors rhythm section and a stunning array of guitar solo’s. “One Thousand Bird’s” comes off in this same approach and has some mind blowing solo’s that feel like something Hendrix would hammer out if he were here with us today. The albums most calm and minimal piece, “Solar Ascent”, gives the album a special landing spot that makes it truly timeless. Absorbed into countless amounts of guitar layers, the power it achieves through emotion is just as large as any of the full band pieces on this record. The album’s opener “Waswasa” comes on the opposite end of the dynamic spectrum than “Solar Ascent”, rolling in a high state of energy that calls the spirit of the heaviest classic rock bands. The bass and drums are locked in tightly as guitar is thrown in every direction around the rhythm. The tandem of guitar work is pushed to an extreme with note runs that are out of this world. I love this approach to making music as it really amps up my day.
My favorite piece comes in the experimental and meditative track “They Called You Near”. With a lush dosage of highly processed guitars and the vocals of Chasny, there is a mystical and ancient feeling that takes over through out. Synth sounds like it is bubbling from an inner source of heat as cascading sheets of guitar are placed in the most abstract forms. The acoustic guitar work of Chasny is present for the second half of this piece and aligns the song with a phenomenal twist in composition and direction. It’s a refreshing deviation from the direction most of the album takes and resonates in my mind vividly as I type this.
“Your Ghost” is an acoustic song that is the most charming and earthly of the set. Chasny’s guitar work has always been stunning and it’s with these stripped down vocal and guitar tracks that he shows his most honest and personal side. It’s the side that you’d hear if you lived with the man and he was playing guitar down the hall on his acoustic. I love when an album puts me in these places where the music feels like it is coming from the next room. Closing with the dreamy and blissful resonance of “Visons (From Io)”, this track feels like a continuation of the sound Hendrix achieved with “Little Wing”. It’s a perfect ending to a stellar album and makes me go back for repeated listens to find new sounds over and over.
Six Organs of Admittance have become fully embellished with the addition of Comets on Fire and Ascent is a crowning achievement in their respective catalogs. It’s a record that also paves out a new approach in the emergence of psychedelia, folk and rock.