sun 22/04/2018

CD: Six Organs of Admittance - Burning the Threshold | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Six Organs of Admittance - Burning the Threshold

CD: Six Organs of Admittance - Burning the Threshold

Ben Chasny’s venerable vehicle eschews musical strategies in favour of focusing on the song

Six Organs of Admittance's 'Burning the Threshold': a textured sense of foreboding

The keeper on Burning the Threshold is “Around the Axis”, a glistening, three-minute instrumental rooted in the finger-picking of Davy Graham’s classic 1961 arrangement of “Anji”. Building from its inspiration, “Around the Axis” deftly interweaves three guitars, suggesting where Graham and other contemporary solo stylists such as Bert Jansch may have gone early on if they had not been lone instrumentalists. It also suggests one aspect of where Pentangle were at in 1969 and a familiarity with the 1966 Bert Jansch/John Renbourn album Bert and John.

Burning the Threshold though is not entirely an exercise in repurposing past Brit-folk styles (and John Fahey). “Taken by Ascent”, the track following “Around the Axis”, is dominated by a circular acoustic guitar motif but underpinned with groove-based, shuffling drums and punctuated by fuzz guitar, a dark organ melody and a rough Neil Young-esque solo, topped with subterranean vocals hinting of bad tidings to come. These are the poles of Burning the Threshold: airy, atmospheric acoustic workouts twinned with – and often subsumed into – a textured sense of foreboding.

For Six Organs of Admittance’s 23rd album (any amount is an estimate as there have also been split albums) mainman Ben Chasny has eschewed the strategies of recent releases – the Hexadic system of composition – and also set being solo on one side. Burning the Threshold is a band album teaming Chasny with Alex Neilson, Naomi Yang & Damon Krukowksi and Ryley Walker on a track apiece. The main foil is percussionist Cooper Crain. With its collaborative nature and focus on songs over process, Burning the Threshold implies Chasny has been rethinking the character of Six Organs of Admittance. Nonetheless, his new album will not bring fresh fans on board as it offers no new directions although it does stress that, within its prescribed limits, Chasny’s vision of folk music remains endlessly malleable.

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