by Six Organs Off AdmittanceRelease date: February 24, 2017
Label: Drag City
Ben Chasny is certainly a busy man when it comes to releasing records and even if you put aside his extra-curricular activities as a member of Comets On Fire and the numerous side projects he has going at any one time, you are still left with the large body of work that is Six Organs Of Admittance. Adding to that now, is new album Burning The Threshold and a return to a acoustic folk based sound.
The kind of folk music that Chasny likes to play doesn’t really stay true to any generic sounds though and there is more here in line with droned out psychedelic mantras than with a pastoral or traditional kind. That’s not to say there isn’t a sense of the communal and the over-riding feel here is of whispered stories around the campfire.
That sense of being together is perhaps strongest during the soaring chorus of ‘Adoration Song’. This track is a slight anomaly though and whilst it stirs the album into life, it is a short-lived moment as Burning The Threshold then descends into introspection. As Chasny’s guitar shifts into ever more repeated melodies, it is like a wave of calmness overcoming you. It’s almost difficult to keep your concentration at times although this is in no way a bad thing.
The hushed tones and earthy guitar of ‘Under Fixed Stars’ and ‘Taken by Ascent’ play off the more direct songs such as ‘St Eustace’. Mellow tones slip you by in moments of rare beauty bringing to mind the music of Steve Gunn albeit minus the blues streak. Indeed, the two would make wonderful bedfellows in a weird Americana scene that treads a more unusual path than the likes of The Band and Gram Parsons dared to follow. Chasny may recognise these archetypes of Americana but his is the tripped out drone of The Grateful Dead rather than a countrified sound.
It’s a dense album and can take a good few listens before it sinks in. There’s a kind of addictiveness to it that makes you want to seek out more nuances, no doubt helped by the otherworldly shift in melodies which remain just out of reach to the listener. The reward is in those moments of recognition when a key change triggers off a memory or a lyric causes a cry of joy. In fact, on the whole the album is the definition of virtuous patience. Unusual, beguiling and warm, it’s an album to hold close in these winter months.