26 Feb 2015

Six Organs Of Admittance "Hexadic"

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Six Organs Of Admittance, the solo project of visionary guitarist Ben Chasny, have fearlessly journeyed the outer reaches of psych via early albums such as the John Fahey fingerpicking mysticism of ‘For Octavio Paz’ to the more recent smouldering full on guitar howl and explosive work on display on ‘Shelter From The Ash’ and ‘Sun Awakens’. A true maverick pursuing his own unique and exploratory furrow, Chasny’s work is never anything short of electrifying and utterly absorbing. Indeed, this writer remembers a hushed crowd one cold night at a Six Organ’s show in Glasgow literally swooning at every guitar flurry and angelic vocal swoop that emitted from the man himself. Latest opus ‘Hexadic’ turns things on their head once again, into freeform and furious guitar noise with less structure but no less intensity or direction. Indeed Chasny has used a very deliberate and personally devised form of improvisation, as the press release states; 'Over the last two years, Ben assembled a comprehensive system of musical composition. Designed to free sound and language from rational order and replace calculation with indeterminacy, the Hexadic System is a catalyst to extinguish patterns and generate new means of chord progressions and choices... this was the goal: to use the System to make heavy music with as few "heavy" signifiers as possible. The ones that are left: Volume. Distortion. Impact!'

'The Ram' begins by casting a sombre and reflective mood, its echoed, Duane Eddy style guitars recalling earlier Chasny forays such as 'The Desert Is a Circle’ (from ‘Sun Awakens’) as jazz drumbeats swagger and stagger behind the growing atmosphere of dread and tension. 'Wax Chance' follows, corrosive guitar hissing and spitting out monolithic slabs of pure white noise. More akin to Chasny’ s occasional link ups with psych monsters Comets On Fire, the ever present crackle and bleed from the amp is hugely thrilling. There is nothing polished here, this music is for real. Drums and bass follow low in the mix, a processionary and sullen beat occasionally exploding into frantic action. 'Maximum Hexadic' picks up where the previous track left off, manic riffing and solos bending and merging into growling noise and electric howls, Chasny’ s vocals hidden under layer upon layer of feedback and fuzz. The veritable calm after the storm, 'Hesitant Grand Light' presents an almost spaghetti western aura, Spanish acoustic guitar underlying a reverbed electric that wails like an oncoming steam train. The tension is palatable; freeform this might be but cleverly and carefully paced and articulated it certainly is. A widescreen mood is conjured; you can almost feel the heat of the sun.

'Hollow River' opens like Black Sabbath at their most malevolent, huge swathes of funereal paced darkness bursting forth and fizzling with pure energy. Reminiscent of Earth (though less tightly controlled) this is the sound of the world ending through one man’s guitar. 'Sphere Path Code C' continues the heaviness though throws in Chasny’ s broken up and hallucinatory vocals to disorientating effect, not unlike 'Hairway To Steven' era Butthole Surfers or the work of early Pain Teens. There is something visceral at work here, this is Chasny’ s muse stripped back to pure noise and expression rather than the precision and considered layering of earlier albums. This is his soul pouring forth in white hot expression, the unconscious becoming conscious in the form of unadulterated guitar freak-outs. The mood quietens with ‘Future Verbs', a doom filled and echo laden piece of black hearted psych which, sounding not unlike Godspeed You Black Emperor at their most barren, drips dread and despair across the scorched wasteland. 'Vestige' builds from this wreckage, the metallic hum and drone of the guitar like a choir from hell, a swarm of electric bees. To close, 'Guild's titanic guitar riffs scream across deceptively laid back and improvised drums, sounding not unlike a eulogy for the earth itself in some kind of death throes. This music is monumental, the sheer noise and scale emotionally overpowering and occasionally overwhelming. But go with it, let it catch you in its flow and go with it and you are in for a truly immersive and genuine experience. This is music with its heart bare, tapping into something collective and subconscious.

Six Organs are no-one's band but their own. They will follow their muse and this album takes them down one particular strand of expression. At other times they are melodic, gentle, spiritual or virtuoso. Here they are alive with the pure dread and joy of existence. You can be too, make sure you get hold of this album.

"Hexadic" is available here.

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