“I love things that remind me of Bach.” That’s what the American at the back seat said when he listened to the first 30 seconds of Actaeon’s Fall, the opening piece of Luminous Night, the new and intriguing album by Six Organs of Admittance.
Personally, I don’t think it sounds like Bach, but you can definitely say that Ben Chasny, the man behind this ‘group’, went one step backwards and took a more classic turn, with a fuller, more consolidated soundscape In the first piece it works well because everything you expect is there: lean acoustic guitar, a badgering sound, and all of a sudden there is this flute that throws me straight into the kingdom of Prog-Rock. Before you start imagining Ban Chasny with a cloak, babbling about knights and princesses – stop. There’s nothing to worry about.
Unless if you like Chasny early materials, the complicated ADHD drones, threatening to attack the world after the coming nuclear disaster/holocaust. In that case, you can start worrying. The first reason is that Chasny used to release and album every 20 minutes or so, and could even compete with groups such as Acid Mother’s Temple in the frequency of his releases – and now, a new album after two years (not including RTZ, which is basically a compilation). I’m a person who can appreciate a change, especially with musicians. Metallica was making a great move when they recorded Loaded; it’s just too bad this album had mediocre songs because the concept was right. This album is similar in this sense: Chasny take the great work he did in Shelter From The Ash, his previous album, and marches with it one step forward towards the districts of proper songwriting. This process started back in 2005, when his masterpiece School Of The Flower was released, and I’m all for it. It’s very hard to keep yourself interested in another feedbacks, squeaking and drones album.
Anesthasia, the second piece in this album, is slow and beautiful: The electric guitar at the back reminds me things that I’ve already forgotten from beautiful past periods of Chasny, but this flute – that works so well in terms of orchestration, really dries me out. Something in Chasny’s work has started to become spiritual – but not exactly in the right sense of the word. He is still full of passion, but it doesn’t go all the way, and this song, I hate to say, gets a little boring towards the end.
Then comes Bar-Nasha and shuts me up. The repetitive acoustic tabla with the humming strings reminds me everything I loved in Chasny’s music and throws anyone who listens to this piece with their eyes shut to some laundry area down the Ganges River. Cover Your Wounds With Sky is some kind of a valium pill for me: almost 4 and a half minutes of some white noise/repetitive feedback, stopped every once in a while with the sound of water drops inside a cave, preparing the ground for Ursa Minor
Cover Your Wounds With Sky
Now, Ursa Minor is an interesting piece. It sounds like the closest thing to a Ben Chasny song. Both from a melodic and textual aspect, and because he’s almost a genius, his songs sound better than songs of many others singers that are tagged as ‘dark’. He is simply more authentic and much more moving. The River Of Heaven, with the crying violin and tabla, throws you to Persia, Enemies Before The Light sounds at first like a Gregorian hymn and then its taken over by a guitar who wants to kill your mother.
Enemies Before The Light
At first, I thought it’s his best album. Then I thought it’s so-so: many efforts and original ideas but it doesn’t really work. After a month of listening I think I’ve managed to formulate a stable opinion: I’m divided. I understand what he wants to do and I respect it. He tries to leave the world of repetitive digging and move to the world of songs, proper songs – and that’s great. He is also doing it gradually which makes the pieces in this album similar to normal singer-songwriters but with dark drilling musical arrangements, similarly to Woven Hand or the Black Heart Procession. The problem is the songs in this album. Every one of them is good, but listening to all of them consecutively could be a tiring experience. I think that one song in his previous album, Shelter From The Ash, encompasses the process he’s working on in this entire album: dark, drilling, scary and moving. Developing these qualities into a full album left him with something that moves between being one good album and a drag.
To cut a long story short, I’ll just write although I didn’t want to until now – if Chasny released until today only perfect albums, this album is 7. It’s pretty drastic for him and I can only attribute is for him being somewhat tired, and he is probably will come back to us soon with another perfect album. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Luminous Night each song by itself and not as one album. I love you Chasny, I understand what you’re trying to do, but you have to be more solid And also get back to better songs.