Recommended by us on 26th October 2012.
My friends know it has never been a secret, my love for Six Organs Of Admittance (or I could even say everything Ben Chasny has done), so when he came to Tilburg on May 27th, 2011 to present his record called Maria Kapel in the Ursulinenkapel.In May 2010 Ben Chasny was invited by the Dutch festival organization Incubate for an artist in residence for their glocal project. In a week time Chasny was taken to several Maria shrines (Kapel) in the surroundings of Tilburg by a specialized guide who would explain the whole history behind the shrines and the region of Tilburg. With this experience Chasny started writing new songs which he performed live at the Incubate festival in De Pauluskerk in Tilburg on September 19th, 2010.
The recordings from this live performance are presented on this record, together with 2 additional pieces recorded in the studio at home.
For these songs Chasny went back to the acoustic guitar, something we didn’t hear him do for quite a while, with his last 100% acoustic guitar album being For Octavio Paz (Time-Lag Records/ Holy Mountain, 2003/2004).
As I had attended to concert at Incubate and already heard all the acoustic pieces, which I also recorded on video, I knew exactly what to expect.
Though the album starts with studio work for harmonium (what we also hear in the last track). A slow evolving drone piece that starts the atmosphere for the album good. Somehow with the first tones you can already feel the vibrations of the landscape around the center of Noord-Brabant, a mainly rural piece with in the heart the city of Tilburg, of the Netherlands.
The first acoustic song is called Riel after a village near the town my parents live (Goirle, both below Tilburg) and seems to describe the rural live in the villages in the area. It somehow seems familiar to me from the times I used to bike through the country side. I see the cows and the tractors with their trailers in front of me.
With this scene in my head I continue to the other songs and in the third song “Stone, Leaf and Pond” we get to hear what makes Chasny such an amazing guitar player. With his own style of finger-picking he makes a guitar sound as if you hear three different ones at once. But while it is all pretty technique he never looses sight on emotion in the music. It still fits very well with the scenery.
We also get to visit other villages and small towns, for example Dongen, which is to the West of Tilburg, where things get more hectic. Which might be the crazy traffic jams we get in the Netherlands some times. Though, form the hectic he goes to the slowness again, with soft humming.
For me this record is not only special because I attended the concert where it was recorded but also the memory of the place I used to call home, the city of Tilburg. Even after 13 years in the city of Amsterdam when I hear this music it makes me think of all things I have had there in the time I still lived with my parents. I even have visited some of the shrines myself, not to pray as I do not believe in any god, but more out of common interest in history and culture. And in this album I feel this.
Though, this does not mean this album wouldn’t touch you if you aren’t from this region. No I think anyone who comes from a place rural places, or cities near rural places, can relate to this music. And even for big city folks it can give this certain relaxing thing, this short escape from reality.
Maria Kapel in this case can be compared with For Octavio Paz very well, though where that album has more of a Central American vibe to it.
It has been a good year for me as Six Organs of Admittance fan, we got two albums (the other being Asleep Above The Floodplain) and some amazing performances. And with this one we say he is really back to his old level. The way we like to see him best.
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