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Inspired by the East-meets-West solo guitar musings of John Fahey and Robbie Basho, former Plague Lounge guitarist Ben Chasny formed Six Organs of Admittance in 1998 in Northern California. SOOA's self-titled, self-released debut arrived that year, followed by various compilation tracks and obscurities. In 2000, SOOA issued the Manifestation EP on the Ba Da Bing! label, a one-sided clear vinyl-only release consisting of one extended piece (it was reissued by Strange Attractors on CD in 2004 with extra music), and featuring female vocals and varied percussion accompanying the centerpiece of Chasny's guitar. Also in 2000, Dust and Chimes was released, first in a limited edition by Pavilion, and then in an expanded run by Holy Mountain. The second full-length from SOOA, it featured raga-like guitar work surrounded by bells, chimes (as the name implies), drones, and Chasny's multi-tracked, chant-style vocals.
In 2003, Chasny began an association with Comets on Fire, which led to him becoming a full-time touring and recording member of the band. He also released Compathia for Holy Mountain and two titles for Time-Lag, a CD reissue of 1999's limited-edition Nightly Trembling and the landmark For Octavio Paz. After recording and touring extensively with Comets on Fire in 2004, Chasny returned to the studio and issued the moving and beautiful School of the Flower on Drag City in January of 2005. Sun Awakens and Shelter from the Ash arrived in 2006 and 2007. After touring and a long break in 2008, SOOA undertook what would become a prolific 2009. First was the release of the sonically expansive — and very electric — Luminous Night, followed by the double-disc retrospective RTZ, both of which appeared on Drag City.
In addition, Chasny and friends provided a vinyl-only soundtrack for Joseph Mattson's novel Empty the Sun, from Barnacle in a limited edition that also included the book. Chasny and guitarist Andrew Mitchell recorded — as SOOA — an all-acoustic, limited-release CD-R entitled Life at the Cat's Cradle, recorded by Cory Rayborn in October. Chasny spent 2010 immersing himself in the writings of French critic Gaston Bachelard and American theology professor Catherine Keller. They proved a profound influence on the composing, arranging, and recording of the next (primarily acoustic) SOOA album, Asleep on the Floodplain, issued in the early spring of 2011 on Drag City. The band returned in the summer of 2012 with the decidedly more rocking Ascent.
Chasny spent the next couple of years touring and developing a card-based music-making system he calls Hexadic. Originally motivated by the desire to break guitarists out of bad habits as they met unfamiliar tonal relationships — each card relates to a note on the neck — he also adapted it for other instruments. Six Organs of Admittance issued an album named for the system in February of 2015. ~ Jason Nickey & Thom Jurek, Rovi