6/4/17 – Six Organs of Admittance “For Octavio Paz” (2003)

Six Organs of Admittance is the solo project of Ben Chasny, a guitarist with a background in Drone, Noise Rock, and Psychedelic. He is quiet prolific in this project, and I’m not sure how I came to find this album out of the bunch. His sound has changed over the 19 years he’s been releasing music, but it has largely been guitar focused. For Octavio Paz in particular is nearly all acoustic guitar, and all instrumental. Although on first glance it sounds like a Folk album, the way he plays and lack of singing makes this feel much more in common with a Drone album, like something from Natural Snow Buildings, but still grounded.

Fire on Rain introduces the album with some stark and bleak percussion and ambient noise. It’s the only song on the album like this, but like a morning sun, the acoustic guitar comes and warms up everything. When You Finally Return actually features Chasny’s voice, although it’s just a heavenly, wordless singing. It’s one of the more uplifting songs on this album, the rest is a little more pensive. Elk River is just beautiful, I really love the wandering melody that loops back on itself again and again. Ben Chasny is a very skilled guitarist and composer, and For Octavio Paz commands attention but keeps it subtle. If not for his skilled and varied playing, it would be so easy to write this album off as just background noise.

As moody as the album gets, the rest of it doesn’t compare to the closer, The Acceptance of Absolute Negation. At 27 minutes in length it’s a massive, sprawling, frantic, atmospheric song. It’s not till 10 minutes in that he slows down his frenzied playing, but still retains the same air of unease and distress. He doesn’t stop till 20 minutes in, impressive if it was all one take, and there’s a brief respite. He returns more intimate than ever, and produces the feeling that he’s playing right next to you. There’s this strange clicking noise I can’t identify, but his deep breathing is what solidifies that closeness of sound. The album art is so perfect, I find myself gazing in to it to try and get the full picture, and he’s looking right back, leaning forward to stare too.

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