on life, music etc beyond mainstream


– How many times has Rock And Roll been pronounced dead now?

– Often, brother. Slumped on the couch, puke running out of the corners of its mouth, Strat in one hand, smouldering Camberwell Carrot in the other, pulse long gone.

– Many have tried to bury it over the years; the eulogies have been long and extensive.

– For sure. The myth lives longer, but, well, the Rolling Stones have been dead, musically, for over thirty years now. But so many still love to celebrate them. It is good their eulogies have been written in extenso, brother.

– Yeah.

– Yeah.

– But, you know every time the body is cast into the grave and the headstone is in place, a gnarled hand bursts from the soil and soon the lumbering corpse is heading straight to the local hostelry in search of Jack Daniels and a monitor to put its foot on.

– You’re so right, so damned fuckin‘ right. You know i do not like everybody’s darling of hand made, sweating, looking-for-the-next-bar-rock: The Hold Steady, boring. But I love these other motherfuckers,   Deer Tick, and two of their albums, The Last Dirt Sessions and Divine Provenance. They are living inside their music. Inside a not-so-quickly dying beast called rock’n’roll’n’raw!

– Yeah.

– I see the record in your hands, the name of the band is music in my ears: Six Organs Of Admittance and this, well, bona fide guitar god Ben Chasny.

– Yep, that’s what I would call him, too. Clearly Ben Chasny has never been told of Rock And Roll’s precarious health or the truly tragic prognosis given to the guitar solo.

– Yep. He’s been knocking albums out on a yearly basis for what seems like an eternity under the moniker of Six Organs Of Admittance, and this time around he’s roped in Comets On Fire (who are apparently on a never ending hiatus) to help him out.

– From the minute Waswasa kicks in there’s no hanging about. A 5 minute guitar wrecking ball, it quickly changes from 70s riffery into self-indulgent fret-wankery of the highest order.

– Ha ha ha ha!!!  Indulgent it might well be, but it is also utterly captivating.

–  And Ben Chasny knows a lot o twists and turns. Things take a sudden turn, for example, for the psychedelic on Close To The Sky which initially burns slow with an insistent bassline and dreamy haze. But it’s not too long before the wah-wah pedal takes over and Chasny heads off into the heart of the sun soloing like a re-animated Hendrix.

– It never stops to surprise.

– For example, Even If You Knew possesses phenomenal sense of a menace in its bass and drums pattern and when it opens up it is an exhilarating riot of catch and release dramatics and a perfect example of how the most basic riffs can thrill and excite if deployed with such aplomb. The roaring distortion and thundering drums that bring the track to a close prove that guitar music isn’t dead at all, it still has the power to move mountains and break bones.

This entry was posted on Dienstag, 21. August 2012 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Another great Six Organs of Admittance, more on the quiet side: ASLEEP ON THE FLOODPLAIN:

    “I grew up in a tiny house at the end of a place called Elk River Valley. We had a gigantic redwood tree in our yard and Elk River flowed through our backyard. My childhood was spent climbing trees and playing in the forest and exploring the woods… I recently went back to visit that place. Memories of childhood reveries flooded my senses and it was so powerful. I realized that my folk music comes from this place and the trees, smells and all the feelings that are locked up, and the only way back to them is through music.”

    Ben Chasny, the hippie guitar luminary behind Six Organs of Admittance, said this to the British magazine Terrascope in 1999 as they were writing a comprehensive feature about him. (It is a must-read for any Six Organs fan.) Around that time, he had just finished his brambly and experimental CD, Dust and Chimes, yet one can hear Chasny’s sentiments about home and nature in all the music he has made since then. It’s a simple and profound statement that also sums up why listeners are so passionate about their childhood bands. We can never get our youth back, but we can remember, and music works on the emotional components of memory in a way that a Polaroid can’t quite manage.

    But Chasny isn’t trying to invoke all of our homes for us. He is playing music about his home with a passion, which is just as powerful. There has never been a doubt in my mind that his records come from Northern California, whether it’s the Elk River Valley near Eureka or the San Francisco Bay Area, where he now resides. Like Thuja member Loren Chasse does with his field recordings, Six Organs of Admittance finds the beauty of California’s upper regions in the sprawling and bustling Bay Area, albeit in a different way. The attempt to connect these places is quite apparent on Chasny’s newest and most forthcoming album to date, Asleep on the Floodplain. Here, “home” means two things: his childhood home a stone’s throw away from Oregon, which forms the record’s theme, and his current home 270 miles southward, where Asleep on the Floodplain was conceived and recorded.

    Sounding like it was made outdoors in a valley between brushy mountains (without the rustling or squawking), Asleep is earthy and raw where 2009’s Luminous Night was polished and strained, a mostly acoustic affair that still retains much of Six Organs’ rumbling density. Its kindred record would be 2005’s School of the Flower, also acoustic, and those who passed over Shelter from the Ash (2007) and Luminous Night may wonder if anything’s changed. Of course, Asleep on the Floodplain is a step back in the best sense. Chasny relies not on a Renaissance Fair’s assemblage of strings and woodwinds, but on his awe-inspiring mastery of the guitar that won him a following. Few in the 21st century wield as much power over their instrument as he does, and he plays as if everything from a simple pluck to the most advanced techniques might unlock a treasured memory.

    You can hear it in the sheer feeling behind “Above a Desert I’ve Never Seen”, a track with Middle Eastern chord progressions and quick trills that Six Organs could have made five years ago, but whose intensely yearning quality places it in this record’s context. Other songs reference childhood more directly: On “Dawn, Running Home”, Chasny recalls how it was to sleep over in his friend’s tree house, and he sets those recollections to a dreamy soundtrack that had me imagining two happy children running through the meadowlands. “Hold But Let Go” is a bittersweet folk tune whose lyrics, consisting almost entirely of the words in the title, serve as a kind of mantra to help him keep the past in perspective. “Light of the Light” represents the song’s flip side, as he flies himself back to a day in his life and remains there until the light fades away.

    Asleep on the Floodplain even shows Six Organs evolving, or at least trying new things, though Chasny is so quiet about it that it almost goes unnoticed. “Brilliant Blue Sea Between Us” is a shimmering ambient piece fraught with nautical tension and a striking reminder of the Fennesz/Tim Hecker aesthetic. Harmonic layers of processed mystery instruments—could be anything from a guitar to an electric who-knows-what—form a body of water that feels deeply sad, while a single strum breaks the surface like someone diving in to reach his true love on the other side. The 12-minute “S/word and Leviathan” takes Six Organs’ penchant for long tracks to an entirely new place, where a swarm of strums, chants and finger picks sinks into the earth and makes it tremble. Most astonishing is “River of My Youth”, a collaboration with Magik Markers’ Elisa Ambrogio, whose melancholic scales and clouded atmosphere reflect the cascade of conflicted emotions that come with thinking about childhood as an adult.

    Listen to “River of My Youth” and picture Ben Chasny in his home now, imagining himself at his home then, face to face with the Elk River in his old backyard. The water is moving steadily along the current, never stopping, always hustling toward the next place. What would he say to the river? What experiences, triumphs or heartaches would he share? How might he interact with it? Would he swim or just catch his reflection? How long would he hold it before he knew to let it go? As this album sees release and the dust settles, I think that Chasny will be partaking in a process like this one, asking himself these questions, if he hasn’t already begun. And though he may have made this record about himself, for himself, I believe he is speaking to all of us, imploring us to remember. (source: popmatters)

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Why is „Dawn, Running Home“ your favorite song on Asleep on the Floodplain?

    It’s my favorite song just because of the way it came about, the way it was made. It started with the ambient sounds and then the drone and eventually worked it’s way towards the chords and melody — sort of the opposite way I usually make songs.

    As the average music fan’s attention span shrinks shorter and shorter, artists often make the „hit“ Track 1, Side 1. What prompted you to place your favorite song at the very end of the record?

    It’s my favorite song but I don’t think that means it is going to be everyone’s favorite or that it is the pop „hit“ on the record (that would be „S/word and Leviathan,“ obviously). I also like to leave some of the best songs for last. I always liked records that did that, like „Waiting For A Friend“ at the end of Tattoo You.

    The lyrics on „Dawn, Running Home“ are hard to make out, rendering your voice just one of the many instruments and layers on the track. Was this intentional? How important are words to the Six Organs experience?

    On some of my songs the lyrics are very important, on others not so much. A lot of the time I am just sort of freestylin‘ so whatever comes out, comes out. This song is an example of that. the lyrics are:

    Phosphor bronze heart
    and you gotta show
    into a hazy memory where trees hang low
    and barely there, barely there anymore
    i guess it’s all from where you stand
    not where you go
    and there’s field where nobody slept
    and there’s a sky that nobody kept

    i shivered under covers all night
    i crept from the sleep till the brilliant light
    i ran back home as the sun painted the sky
    and the people never found out why

    i see it’s time to leave
    you got it all wrong
    i never hated anyone
    maybe i just stayed too long
    i yelled too loud, split the crowd
    form those who hated and those
    who were proud
    all i have is memory and silt
    and a dawn over the hills and a friend
    in a house that his father built

    How did the seeds for the song — the ambient sounds and drone — first come about? What instruments did you use and where were you?

    I was at home and the first sound was just a mic set up to record the neighborhood. At the end of the song you can hear a deep and low bass note which is a big truck downshifting outside. Then I recorded a very minimal harmonium track and then a slightly more melodic harmonium track. Each track was a little more melodic than the one that preceded it.

    The lyrics appear connected to the album’s title, Asleep on the Floodplain, specifically your references to sleeping under the sky and the silt. How much does imagery vs. story-telling play a role in your lyrics? And if you wouldn’t mind, tell us about the character in the song.

    I tend to tell the story of the song through the imagery. I rarely write a straightforward narrative. This particular song is about when I was a kid and I used to spend the night over at a friend’s on his property, sometimes outside in a field or sometimes in a tree fort. It was a very rural area and when the sun would come up I’d run back home. The title is actually very literal.

    You bring up a really interesting point, that when a musician picks a favorite song, he or she is drawing from a much different experience than the listener and it’s not necessarily something that we can re-create on our end. Does your experience as a musician color the way you enjoy other people’s music? Do you listen for and admire ways a song was created, or are you susceptible to the pleasure principle that elevates some songs to „hits“?

    It usually takes me a long time to start thinking about a way that a song is created. I am usually just hit with the feeling. It all hits as one thing. For instance, I can never make out lyrics. Maybe that is one reason why I don’t try too hard to have my words too discernible. I can never understand what anyone is saying. „What is the chorus there? ‚You’re a can of olives‘?“ „No, they are saying ‚You can go your own way.‘ Its a very famous Fleetwood Mac song.“ „Yeah, I know it’s Fleetwood Mac, I just thought they were saying ‚You’re a can of olives.'“

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