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School of the Flower

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Album Review

Ben Chasny has had a busy 21st century thus far. He's had six new recordings come out since the year 2000 and two others reissued, and he's become a full-time recording and touring member of Comets On Fire. School of the Flower stands somewhere between Compathia and For Octavio Paz, a mysterious, beautifully executed series of airy yet mysterious vocal and instrumental songs that put Chasny's elliptical guitar playing front and center (as has become the norm, he also plays organ and sings) and are draped in Chris Corsano's darkly textured percussion and organ work. The album kicks off with "Eighth Cognition/All You've Left," with free jazz drumming skittering around the forefront with a series of droning organ chords and skeletal single-note runs before it all gives way to a tenderly played acoustic guitar introducing Chasny's lilting vocal. "Saint Cloud" features a gently chanted vocal just beneath layered six- and 12-string guitars and droning electric sounds that develop into a controlled roar near the tune's end. The hinge piece on this set is the 13-and-a-half-minute title track. It begins with a hypnotic guitar pattern that gets doubled and then tripled up and sprawls into the stratosphere of wailing psychedelic electric guitars, spare percussion, and noise before winding down and dissembling itself into silence. Another standout is "Thicker Than a Smokey," a cover by the obscure (and apparently vanished) psychedelic-era folksinger Gary Higgins from his Red Hash album. It's an oddity here because it is so utterly straightforward as a piece of psych-folk, like it could have been on a Stephen Stills solo outtakes record. In all, School of the Flower is another step in a remarkable journey. It is full of emotion yet never sophomoric, it is full of aural poetry and never pretentious, and it is full of that certain mercurial grace that makes each new offering from Six Organs of Admittance something wholly other and an essential listen.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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School of the Flower, Six Organs of Admittance
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