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Album Review

With Compathia, Ben Chasny takes Six Organs of Admittance further in the direction of "songs" in the traditional sense (as opposed to extended, largely instrumental, raga-like jams). Assuredly, these aren't pop songs, but they are, most definitely, songs. With Dark Noontide, Six Organs' previous effort, Chasny's folky eastern melodies were balanced by his chant-like moan. But with Compathia, he sings on every track save one, the brief title track (which functions as a beautiful instrumental breather mid-album). His voice is also noticeably pushed forward in the mix, and the songs themselves are less cluttered by percussion and other instruments, further emphasizing Chasny's singing and lyrics. As a result, Compathia almost recasts Six Organs of Admittance as a recording outfit: more of a psychedelic singer/songwriter outing now than a (largely) instrumental drone-raga folk concern. John Fahey,Robbie Basho, and Sandy Bull still come to mind when it comes to Chasny's playing, but he has simplified his style — in a good way — accomplishing more with less. A dark, orphic guitar figure rings though each track as Chasny tells us (for example) to "run from nightmares" (from "Run!") in a voice that sounds like it knows what it's talking about. With Compathia, Six Organs could be thought of as Devendra Banhart's sober, less whimsical companion.

Note: Ethan Miller from Comets on Fire contributes sitar to "Somewhere Between," as well as a searing burst of electric guitar to the album-ending "Only the Sun Knows" (the clear standout track), perhaps in repayment for Chasny's appearance on Comets' 2002 release, Field Recordings from the Sun.

Biography

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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Compathía, Six Organs of Admittance
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