Ben Chasny has released something like eight full length albums under the Six Organs of Admittance name to date, each revealing an artist fully energized by the possibilities of primitive acoustic and electronic psychedelic sounds. Whether evoking a more tribal Eastern folk dream (as on his breakthrough ?Dust and Chimes?) or walking nervously down bewitched mountain trails as on the masterful ?Dark Noontide,? Chasny stays true to his own esoteric muse. And he evolves, too. Last year?s Drag City debut, ?School of the Flower,? may have revealed a welcome turn to songcraft, but Chris Corsano was also along for the ride too?the unorthodox drummer?s hands-everywhere approach maintaining an ever-present link to the most outer sonic realms. And the evolution continues still.
?The Sun Awakens? is definitely the loudest Six Organs disc to date. It?s the most dynamic, the most traditionally rocking (yet I?m hard pressed to call any of these songs rock music?weird) and the most cinematic. All Six Organs albums have featured their share of fuzzed out electronic meditations, but ?The Sun Awakens? is downright progressive. There, I said it! In a time when half the world is melting into their leather recliners from record high heat indexes and ?is it real or not?? global warming (apparently it is), Chasny has made a concept album about the sun. After all, our first parent was a star.
Things are stripped down the middle between song-based tracks and the side-long evocation, ?River of Transfiguration.? The first side is six shorter numbers that converse with one another in a suite-like fashion. Opener ?Torn by Wolves? sets the scene with a crisp but subdued electric folk that suggests frosty winds beating against dawn sunbeams. It?s not at all far removed from Richard Thompson?s score for ?Grizzly Man? last year, but this owes a tad more to a disheveled Robbie Basho than that British folk rock master. Then there?s the rabid picking and ritual drones of ?The Mud Wall? (which appears on the ?Not Alone? comp as the more stripped down ?You Will be the Sun?), erupting into distorted howls and a blistering acid rock crescendo that?s easily one of the most blistering moments in the Six Organs oeuvre. ?The Desert is a Circle? glides on a more continental flavor with festive acoustic guitar brushing up against disembodied fuzz bursts. ?Attar? calls up darker currents of acoustic guitar, growing distorted swells and plodding percussion courtesy of Noel from Comets on Fire, before ?Wolves? Pup? recalls the opening theme on a gentler note.
?River of Transfiguration? is a 24 minute descent into Buddhist chant and industrial electronic mayhem that?s as transcendent as it is dense with percussive, jangling and droning textures. It sounds like Chasny was trying his turn at the kind of all encompassing drone panorama that Sunn o))) trades in, only this makes for a more elevated, less doomed, near religious trip which still maintains the patented dark Six Organs edge. Really only one band can be referenced here, though they may get bandied about a too regularly with this kind of music, but never has a comparison to Popol Vuh been more justified.
?The Sun Awakens? is something of an American answer to the late Florian Fricke?s revered earth-spirit music, but run though an intense post industrial and noise filter. Chasny told me recently in an email he was expecting people to be disappointed. I guess I could see his point. It?s a far cry from the gorgeous raga workouts of ?For Octavio Paz? and other more subtle paths traveled up till now, yet this is still very much a Six Organs of Admittance album. And it?s a surprise to boot. ?The Sun Awakens? is another essential development in the transfiguration of Ben Chasny?s musical soul. Where he goes from here is anyone?s guess. 9/10 -- Lee Jackson (7 August, 2006)