In perhaps their most listener-friendly album to date, Six Organs of Admittance’s “The Sun Awakens” achieves something their previous efforts have lacked-variety.
Clocking in at 44 minutes, “The Sun Awakens” combines psych-folk compositions with eastern melodies in an east-meets-west kaleidoscope of ominous drones and organic ambience.
But unlike the monotonous instrumentals and minimal soundscapes that have plagued the Eureka-based band’s earlier albums, “The Sun Awakens” offers the listener plenty of tempo changes and mood swings among the seven obscure tracks.
Six Organs of Admittance is the side-project of Ben Chasny, front man for the more abrasive Sub Pop super-group, Comets On Fire.
Since 1998 Chasny released eight albums under the lengthy moniker, mystifying listeners with his psychedelic folk and dark atonal compositions that could have only been produced in the dense woods of the Pacific Northwest.
The music evokes imagery of fog-engulfed redwoods and lusterless skies, shutting out the terror twilight of dawn as it attempts to creep through the thick layer of the gray atmosphere.
Analogously, Chasny’s uncanny canticles block out any sign of luminous pop elements that have become attributive of so many other alt-folk outfits, including former neighbors and recent addition to Matador Records, Bright Black Morning Light.
“The Sun Awakens” breathes a certain eeriness that is evident with the album’s opener appropriately titled “Torn by Wolves.”
The short introductory track sets the album’s tone with a lonely acoustical strum accompanied with the lazy sporadic drumming of percussionist and tape-delay manipulator, Noel Von Harmonson.
Chasny’s alternative tuning echoes the sound of some obscure eastern instrument. The percussion serves as a brittle backbone, devoid of any recognizable pattern.
The instrumental opening is interrupted with the modulated vocals of Chasny on the second track, “Bless Your Blood.”
Chasny’s chant-like singing woven with a falsetto croon lures the listener into the album’s dense and sometimes dissonant soundscapes.
In songs like “Black Wall,” Chasny abandons his signature baritone voice and reveals a rather poor attempt to eradicate his bleak vocals, sounding like an odd blend of Prince and Califone’s Tim Rutili.
As the song progresses, the loosely plucked strings of Chasny’s acoustic guitar is smothered with an frenzy feedback – a familiar territory that Chasney has sufficiently covered in Comets on Fire.
Fuzzed out guitars gradually supersede Chasny’s gentle strumming and organ drones, creating a grainy wall of dissonant noise.
Breaking from the chaotic experimentation is the album’s midpoint song, “The Desert is a Circle,” a sort of spaghetti western tune with a rhythmic riff and a crashing tremolo.
While serving as the album’s only toe-tapping song, “The Desert is a Circle” features wordless singing similar to the independent pop group, The Shins.
But not all of the tracks are remotely as interesting.
The 24-minute “River of Transfiguration” starts to become redundant three minutes into the song. Brooding organs and repetitive tone generators start to sound like an industrial factory of predictable noises.
Songs like “Attar” show potential for interesting compositions but are stifled by crashing cymbals and sloppy tribal drumming.
Overall, “The Sun Awakens” represents a promising effort by Ben Chasny and his collaborators.
The album is a pastiche of world music, avant-garde experimentations and psychedelic folk, as unique as the land where they are conceived.
Although this album may attract a wider audience for its more structured arrangement, “The Sun Awakens” takes time to grow on the listener.
Patience is the key. Amidst the hallucinatory haze and violent destruction, the beautiful sound of originality will surely be heard.