Six Organs of Admittance, July 30, The Media Club
Openers The Christa Min didn’t smile, acknowledge the audience or appear to enjoy their own music. I don’t have any patience for that whole “I’d rather be napping” schtick. Musically speaking, the sextet’s songs are okay, if a little predictable once you grasp the formula most of them follow. Their last song did have some drama and power. I remember it from the last time I saw them at Mesa Luna, and I have the main riff stuck in my head right now.
I’m new to Six Organs of Admittance—thanks to that relentless kid at Outer Space Gamelan and Unrestrained! Adam for alerting me. I’ve been enjoying their new album The Sun Awakens (Drag City) for a few weeks now. Singer/guitarist Ben Chasny, who has connections to Comets on Fire and Current 93, makes music that’s difficult to categorize. I’ll go with psychedelic folk and leave it at that. While their music is bleak and ethereal on record, it takes on a more explosive quality on stage. Chasny wields a potent Telecaster in front of drummer Noel Von Harmonson and third member Steve Quenell playing a mysterious tone generator (which on closer inspection comprised a vintage radio unit, some effects pedals and a small mixing board). They opened with a shorter yet more abstract version of “River of Transfiguration,” the side-long piece from The Sun Awakens. Chasny set off bursts of noise like Neil Young in his Arc days and the drummer sprayed snare shots and pounded a gong. We were getting into Wolf Eyes and SUNN O))) territory for a while, what with the drones and the random elements, until things settled down for the rest of the 45-minute set. I recognized “Bless Your Blood,” “Black Wall,” and a jam based around “Torn By Wolves” and ”Wolves’ Pup,” the two instrumental tracks that bookend side one of the album. The arrangements of the songs I knew were sufficiently different from the album that I imagine a Six Organs… live recording would be well worth hearing. The main thing is, the trio were right into it through the whole show, with Chasny lurching around the stage, conducting the band by swinging his guitar neck around, and the other two responding in kind. That's all I ask for—musicianship and passion.