The inside of Ben Chasney’s head must be like a forest. His music sounds like a brave guitar player treading through a maze of brown branches and red leaves, never breaking his pace. The result is, invariably, an album full of hypnotizing songs, and Six Organs of Admittance’ latest is no exception. Burning the Threshold features guest musicians on vocals, drums and keys, but the sound is unmistakable: uncompromising, almost tribal, acoustic music.
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Is this Ben Chasney’s nicest record? Nice is the watchword: it might not be his best, nor his most representative, but Chasney has here made something close to a traditional singer-songwriter paen, singing in a contented coo and traversing what sound nearer to rigid verses and choruses than ever. It’s still loose, gorgeously picked and arguably as primitivist as usual, but this is Six Organs of Admittance on a rumination.
Opener “Things as they Are” is pastoral euphoria: distant guitar twangs recall Richard Youngs circa ‘Amplifying Host’, while Chasney invites mumbled and whispered harmonies to join him, much like James Blackshaw on his first record of singsong. Inviting friends to sing with him has done Chasney’s songs a world of good -- they sound oddly anthemic, making hard-strummed songs like “Adoration Song” sound gorgeously full. With this framework in mind, his songs curl into centred melodies and lasting guitar riffs. “Under Fixed Stars” has something off his old off-kitler in it, but focuses on intertwined vocal performances that focus it into a lullaby.
It’s a delight -- it’s the kind of record that makes me wish I was more of a morning person so I could go for a walk with it or spend some time in with it spinning. What it is, really, is a totally romantic record from someone who usually just landscapes our lives -- here, he gets to tread on his world a bit, and I’m so very glad.
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