Filled with sonic savagery and incredible dynamics capable of wreaking havoc upon...
Sid Smith 2007-11-13
It sure sounds like San Francisco is the place to be for drone-rock if a clutch of recent releases are anything to go by. Hot on the heels of SF combo Wooden Shjips’ (no not a typo) recent tasty release, there now comes guitarist Ben Chasny’s latest Six Organs project whose album is filled with sonic savagery and incredible dynamics capable of wreaking havoc upon unsuspecting ears.
Whilst the guitar is clearly the star, what stops this from being a vacuous shred-fest is the restraint with which Chasny wields the axe. Quicker than you can say 'coruscating', it moves right along into onto 'yowling feedback', then 'soaring' before ending up with our old favourite, 'blistering'. Clichés though they may be, they all certainly apply. The ominous, “Green Manalishi” tension of “Coming To Get You” really adds to the thrill-factor that Chasny painstakingly builds from the first to the last note of the entire record.
A thoughtful production (helped by Tim Green of SF-based power trio, The Fucking Champs) ensures that the heroics don’t end up as high-pitched histrionics. The opening track "Alone In The Alone" paints a vivid picture of a sun-baked high plains drifter around whom scurrying notes scuttle and bend for the attack like scorpions poised to sting.
Also providing the perfect soundtrack to a post-modern Western movie is the truly poignant lament “Strangled Road.” Chasny casts a jaundiced eye upon the chancers you’re likely to meet on the dirt trail of life: 'They’re hiding/waiting to kiss your skull/ they may even eat the horse that you’re riding/swallow the whole world whole.”
Bleak it may be. However, steering a path that includes elements of acid folk, heavy metal (the album is dedicated to his late uncle who introduced Chasny to Iron Maiden at the age of 8) Neil Young-style arc welding, prog, Krautrock and echoes of Americana, it’s an ambitious mix that succeeds brilliantly. Never needlessly showy, Chasny makes everything count, fashioning a beguiling order from a sometimes snarling chaos of free-jazz storm-front drumming, clouds of squalling distortion, and some of the most plaintive ballads you'll hear this year. A real triumph.