Asleep on the Floodplain
Six Organs of Admittance (Seattle guitarist Ben Chasny) often gets overlooked when people discuss the city's abundant folk-rock scene. It could be because he's relatively reclusive and rarely plays out here—but more likely it's because his music eschews the overly conspicuous gather-round-the-campfire chipperness of most Seattle folk rock. Instead, he plumbs a much more morose, almost monastic intensity in his fraught folkadelic excursions.
For his 12th album, Asleep on the Floodplain, Six Organs of Admittance reverts to solo performance in his home studio—the setup that resulted in his most compelling full-lengths (Dark Noontide, Compathia, Dust & Chimes). After the baroque, guest-enhanced Luminous Night, Asleep on the Floodplain is a back-to-basics move. More confident and accomplished than ever on his acoustic guitar and with his soft Donovan-esque vocals, Chasny authors some of his most immediately appealing songs here, especially "Above a Desert I've Never Seen," in which his acoustic guitar displays gorgeous, graceful ragalike leanings, merging Robbie Basho and Sandy Bull's stylings. "Hold but Let Go" is a spare, beautiful acoustic ballad with electric counterpoint that proves that even when Chasny is in peaceful, easy mode, he exudes a melancholy undercurrent. The album's biggest anomaly is the 12-minute "S/Word and Leviathan." It begins like Charlemagne Palestine's strumming music, but played on acoustic guitar rather than organ, as swarming, cyclical riffing generates a mesmerizing, distant Pachinko rumble. A more refined drone eventually streaks elegantly over it before Chasny strafes a Hendrixian solo to finish it off.
Contrary to most of the region's folk-oriented offerings, Six Organs' music is more geared to win over listeners one at a time, whether they be in a bedroom or in a forest, the better for them to meditate on its introverted, intimate charms. Chasny manifests the campfire in your mind.