Album Review: Six Organs Of Admittance – Luminous Night

September 8, 2009

Next time on NOVA...

Concept: Ben Chasny’s solo project arrives at its eleventh album, the fourth in its gradual progression from acoustic to electric arrangement.

Sound: Six Organs Of Admittance has always been a sort of missing link in the more glorified story of rock, having worked alongside both Sonic Youth, the punks who changed the way mainstream music thought of the guitar, and Devendra Banhart, the freaky new face of folk. Six Organs has a sound that lies between these drastically different performers. The strangely comfortable blend of east and west through eclectic percussion and acoustic twang brings to mind both Banhart and The Doors, while stormy shoegaze caterwauling pushes the essential appeal grunge presented in torturing the circuits of its instruments. This is the surprising thing about the band’s approach: these polar opposites feel completely at home in each other. Chasny’s less than enjoyable voice sticks out like a sore thumb, but there are plenty of instrumental tracks like The River Of Heaven to emphasize the prodigious experimentation of this group. While School Of The Flower might be a better album in compositional essence, the production here is obviously better and the group’s chemistry more practiced.

Lyrics: Six Organs Of Admittance has the same issue as many of its colleagues, where combinations of spiritual tone and visceral content can feel both alien and incomplete, a smudged rorschach. Lack of lyrical content isn’t well hid by a thin and lethargic distribution within songs, either. On the upside, the second to last track nearly justifies the approach by referencing commercial artist Charley Harper, whose work carried a childish sprawl in framing and color scheme alongside a fascinating and stylized symmetrical precision. This at least gives the impression that the band intentionally crafted their lyrics this way; it’s only another part of the experiment.

Quick And Dirty: Takes time to grow, but makes a strong case for its unorthodox approach to rock music. (♦♦♦♦)

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