Saturday, August 18, 2012

Six Organs of Admittance Drop Ascent: A Review of the New Album

The first question you're gonna have is:

"When did this guy turn into Neil Young?"

Yeah, the change is a bit odd but maybe not too extreme. Six Organs of Admittance frontman Ben Chasny had worked with Comets on Fire before. Still, it was time to turn up the amps and take those guys into the Louder Studios and crank out what would become Ascent, out 21 August on Drag City.

Ascent, like that last David Kilgour record, puts the guitar at the forefront of the mix and turns that bad boy up...with a few feet tapping effects pedals all the way.

Instrumental opener "Waswasa" still rocks.

"Close to the Sky" unfurls like The Pixies trying desperately to do a blues jam behind Spiritualized-style vocals. Still, the vocals seem like an afterthought as the song's mission is to deliver that payload of a guitar workout. The axe unloads what sounds like knives on a steel door and then gently drops down to Carlos Santana-style melody lines.

"They Called You Near" is eerie mood-rocker -- the feedback used as a sort of instrumental bed under the near-whispered vocals.

"Solar Ascent" is a short comedown from the fire of the early cuts. An instrumental that -- dare I say it? -- recalls Mark Knopfler -- the good Knopfler of his soundtrack work, not the AOR hack! The tune is gentle and the guitar sounds on this tune are no less impressive even if the volume and fury have been diminished.

"One Thousand Birds" is the monstrous wall-of-noise that it was before when it was a streaming tease for the record.

"Your Ghost" might be the sound that some expect of Ben Chasny. Over a lovely plucked line, Chasny gently sings the lyrics. The effect is like a Buckley or Drake cut from another era. A beautiful tune -- the eye of the storm on this ferocious record.

"Even If You Knew" marries those soft vocals up to a Stooges-worthy bass riff and some more guitar histrionics.

"Visions (from Io)" is the slow-burn close. The near "Cathedral"-Eddie Van Halen-on-mellow opening hook captivates and the vocals slow things down. A soft and soothing way to end the otherwise furious Ascent.

Ascent is out on 21 August 2012 on Drag City.

Follow Ben Chasny and Six Organs of Admittance on the official website: