Sunday, January 25, 2009

Six Organs of Admittance - RTZ

Amidst all the hype of the new AnCo album (and don't get me wrong, I love Merriweather Post Pavilion), a hand reaches through the fog and shakes you back to conscioness. The master abides. Ben Chasney is king, don't act like you forgot. The power of these melodies will tear through your consciousness.

I just ordered a new Six Organs LP that I didn't know was coming out until last night. It's actually a rerelease of a bunch of his really old stuff. I have most of these songs already, but listening to them again, together, really puts everything into perspective. Man it gives me chills even thinking about how good this shit is. I was listening to six organs around '02 and this was like coming out in '99. It's all him alone with a 4-track.

Highlights include: All of it.

These are some of the most epic examples of millenial freak folk ever created. It's got the organ/flute thing, bells, guitar body tapping, circular rhythmic patterns, all of those aspects of Six Organs that have seemed to fade out in favor of electric guitars and partners in crime on new recordings.

These recordings beg you to relook at the path Chasney has chosen. The fervant chants from Warm Earth Which I've been Told would fit perfectly alongside anything on Compathia. You can see the budding melodic structures that would go on to become such epics as School of the Flower and River of Transfiguration in all of these songs. It now makes logical sense that Chasney would expand his sound over time, trading dust and rust for the howl of the electric guitar. What he lost from one sound he gained from another.

Bob Dylan was blasted by critics and fans alike when he picked up the electric guitar. People were shocked, but look at where it got us. I'm not saying that Six Organs is revolutionary in the way Dylan was. Still, I remember an interview when Devendra Banhart was asked about the freak folk movement (back when it was still relevant) and he said something to the effect of 'I may be garnering all of the critical attention, but Ben Chasney is the truest example of freak folk that there is.'

The songs speak for themselves.

Here's the album description from Drag City (record label):

"When you think of the way you used to live, the way you degraded the planet. You didn’t know all creatures are equal! Today, you look back and see yourself in a different light. To think that Six Organs was all that held you up to the divine.

Six little organs of separation. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

The double-CD, triple-LP epic called RTZ (named after the button on a Tascam 484 that “returns to zero”) fashions several lesser-known pieces from Six Organs of Admittance’s early years into an massive prismatic arc, colossal and organic like some wonder of the ancient world. How could it be otherwise? Even when existing as only one half of a record, as many of these pieces once did (and still do, somewhere), Mr. 6OOA (Ben Chasny, y’all!) leans into the eternal — letting the winds of Time scar his face and the light of All There Is burn his skin black. Grandmaster Chas has sacrificed the body for his music time and again over the years. RTZ is an iridescent chimera in full flight, viewed through stained glass.

Cataloging these early non-album excursions requires a bit of leg-(and mind) work. RTZ travels back to the dawn of this century to locate “Resurrection,” half of a Time-Lag split 12” with Charalambides. “Warm Earth, Which I’ve Been Told” is half of a Mental Telemetry split CD with Vibracathedral Orchestra and Magic Carpithans from 2003. “You Can Always See the Sun,” was part of Three Loved Recordings’ Purposeful Availments subscription CD series in 2002. And Nightly Trembling was released way back in 1999 in an edition of 33 copies, all given away for free! That’s some spiritual shit right there. Combined with a never-before released extended piece called “Punish the Chasm with Wings” from pre-millennial days and you’ve got yourself a deep, DEEP box set, crammed into a multi-faceted LP jacket.

Rich with excursions to exotic musical climes and rhythmic with prayerful chants from the dark shadows of the earth, RTZ uses strings and bells, riffs both warm and icy, glowing lead guitars, massed voices and the pure, open air for its mantras and rituals. As the title alludes, these old sounds were forged in that bastion of personal expression, the four-track recorder. When a man can record a few feet from his bed, he becomes more inclined to render his nocturnal intuitions. And when that man is Ben Chasny, he can use those remastered (but still good and dusty) early recordings to attain the ultimate goal: a multifaceted triple-gatefold LP!"


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