6 Organs Of Admittance - "The Manifestation"
(Strange Attractors Audio House 2004, SAAH026)
From Aural Innovations #29 (October 2004)
Ben Chasney is a full-time member of space rockers Comets on Fire, but also leads his own entirely different group, the strange, improvisational, mystical 6 Organs of Admittance. The Manifestation is said to be the definitive 6 Organs piece, a 22-minute long, trippy exploration of raga-style percussion, drones, chanted and whispered vocals, atmospherics and Chasney’s John Fahey-style acoustic guitar explorations. Originally released in 1999 on a limited edition clear vinyl disc, this re-release brings the original track back to life in a re-mastered form. This is the kind of piece you can just get lost in. Although only the length of a single album side, it seems much longer as the listener follows Chasney and cohorts Jennifer Juniper Stratford and Utrillo Kushner (of Comets on Fire) on a journey that is not only musical but also in search of one’s self. The theme is the sun (from an etching on the otherwise blank B-side of the original release), and you can see it whether it be stark white rays full of dust motes peaking through the curtains of dark, incense filled basements, or the stark, crimson sun seen from the side of a road running through the desert at dusk, or the warm and comforting pale yellow sun shining down on a meadow where modern-day hippies have gathered to play.
For the Strange Attractors release, Chasney has added a second album-side long exploration called The Six Stations. Dropping the needle on the B-side of the original vinyl release he improvised again on his acoustic guitar to the rumble and static. There was said to be some mystical significance to the placing of the needle on the vinyl having to do with the positioning of the planets. If so, then Chasney is more alchemist than musician, but instead of experimenting with different elements, he experiments with different tunings. The end result is something that sounds like it could have been recorded long ago, something meant to be played on a dusty, old Victrola. At first, the static is annoying, intrusive, but less than a minute or two into the piece it would seem strange if it wasn’t there. Musical theorist and composer R. Murray Shaefer once wrote in his book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, that if there was a sound that began before you were born, continued playing throughout your life, and didn’t stop even after you died, that you would perceive that sound as silence. It would just be an integral part of the fabric of your life. And similarly, the static of the needle grating against the record becomes an integral part of Chasney’s composition. If R. Murray Shaefer’s invisible sound suddenly stopped, you would notice it missing, even though you may not quite be sure what is missing. So would be the case if the needle on the record suddenly stopped. In fact, by the end of the piece, there is something almost cosmic about that sound. When it does stop, you do miss it.
For more information you can visit the 6 Organs Of Admittance web site at: http://www.sixorgansofadmittance.com.
Visit the Strange Attractors Audio House web site at: http://www.strange-attractors.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Strange Attractors Audio House; PO Box 13007; Portland, OR 97213.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald