SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE – Ascent (Drag City)

I have seen the name of Six Organs Of Admittance bandied about over the years, and yet despite their catalogue of over a dozen albums, and their brand of psychedelic folk being just up my street, I have never heard them until now. I think I was put off by reports of them being on the acoustic/exotic side of the psyche-folk genre, and that is not really my favourite aspect of the psychedelic scene. However, for this album they have gone electric, and reviews mentioning long, acid-fried guitar solos certainly made this album worth investigation. Suffice to say that the reports were not wrong, and the riff that blasts from the speakers when I put on opener ‘Waswasa’ is exactly what I had hoped for. Mainman Ben Chasny normally uses his Six Organs… guise for his acoustic whimsy and rocks out with his other band Comets On Fire, but for this one he has roped in his Comets… band-mates to give some guts to this recording. It certainly worked, with the five and a half minutes of ‘Waswasa’ flying by in a haze of outstanding psychedelic guitar-work. ‘Close To The Sky’ starts off with a great Neil Young-style riff, with the shards of guitar resonating throughout the song. Chasny’s muted vocals are used sparingly to provide a creepy feel to the song, but it is the superb guitar solo that steals the show. ‘They Called You Near’ is a great piece of drone-rock, which starts with an Eastern-sounding couple of verses, and then mutates into a raga on guitar and bass, expertly played and evoking Indian mystics and Hindu gods. After three such electrifying tracks we need a bit of a break, and it is provided by the blissed-out melancholy of ‘Solar Ascent’. This stunning piece has the barest of backing and a searing guitar solo which evokes a feeling of floating over the baking sands of a sun-parched desert. ‘One Thousand Birds’ then breaks this reverie with another riff-laden piece of heavy psyche, once again leading into the now ubiquitous guitar solo. ‘Your Ghost’ finally breaks out the acoustic guitars that feature so heavily on his back catalogue, and I finally get to hear what some of his other albums would sound like, but as lovely as it is its just a divergence on this album, and it takes the blistering ‘Even If You Knew’ to get us back on track. The album closes with ‘Visions (From Io)’, a gentle ballad with spacey lyrics but a nice tune, which is used as a springboard for Chasny to send out shards of guitar into the ether. As with the Beak album, this record will not appeal to everyone, but if you are as big a fan of the acid-fried guitar solo as I am then you really do have to hear this album. Every track, bar ‘Your Ghost’, has some stunning extended guitar soloing such as you just don’t hear any more, and if that appeals then this is the album for you.
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