Six Organs of Admittance - Shelter from the Ash
11.22.07 Eric Nielsen
In the darkness of my room I imagine the plucking or gentle hammer-ons and runs of the guitar in Alone With The Alone on the new Six Organs of Admittance album, Shelter From the Ash. Like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, this album blasts at you through a sheen of haze and smoke filled skies, just as the 2007 San Diego county fires robed the skies.
Sometimes gentle, other times all-encompassing, this album wraps it tendrils around your fifth chakra like the clouds kiss the sun. Quiet, moody, omnipresent, withering, off-kilter in a slightly Japanese style, the somber singing relishes during the middle of wars.
The guitars reach out with a hopeful hand through scorching red eyes. The hawk floats face first into the windy sunset and the steel strings beckon a certainty of the end of time. The strings rattle on the fret board with a steady stable hand, lending reassurance through the flames.
Sometimes the fray overwhelms in a dark experiment that sits you back on your heels. Most striking about the album is its allusion to the emptiness of the soul, the internal struggle of manic opposites struggling for a balance. Questioning within the affirmation of life while recognizing the faces of death all around, a certain Zen minimalism touched by a Californian string.
You can feel the vibrations of the strings and voices. Like the music of the east and the voices of the ashram, these sounds meet somewhere inside yourself, beyond a feeling of a thought. Inside an eternity, a stretched plane of existence, a grounded balanced thoughtful place in the trees, mountains and rivers. God blesses the spiritualists with a walking stick and a rucksack.
Coming to Get You rolls off the back of your neck with some twisted arpeggios and bent notes with feedback that warms the grey skied sunsets of fall. Chugging guitars and beautiful vocals are the sweet length and confident slow parting of the curtains. “I’m coming to get you” opens the kingdom doors to the great guitar turn-around that reminds me of an old Maquiladora track, This is California.
It’s the new east. The new wisdom of old New England wrapped liked a Cristo on the state of California. Draped with warm guitar confidence feasting on your eyes like a raven on a fallen foe. Over and over the loosely tuned strings vibrate with a library of ambience broken down by the distorted feedback of gently sweeping guitars.
This California is reassuring and experimental, exciting, new and comfortable. A dark driveway leading up to a new adventure shrouded in a fog of mystery, anything is possible and what you think you know you don’t. The hammers are fast, but with restraint motion of the hands on the strings is the spell that beckons with this music. All leads to territory, unexplored portents of your brain. It’s a magical elixir.
When it does riff it hypnotizes in a surreal archetypical fashion of the great northern part of the state. It spirals with sweet background gentleness whispering ancient tomes without beginnings that sweep into soft landings stretched out before the end of days.
It’s the stacking, with repetition and the difficulty ascertaining the structure that works the magic in these long pieces. The restrained mantras of tones and notes blown around in the wash of a wave sound or a gentle airplane ambience noise are what transport me as a listener.
Strangled Road can make you a believer. The end is so perfect, just the right amount of distortion, the gentle layers of guitars pulling you in through the headphones as the female voice gently rests with the resonant acoustic guitar and “Swallow this whole world whole”. Each note is played with the emotion of an angel and means something laid out on the invisible dream. And then, the electricity comes out crying to complete the mantra with abandoned perfection. Dripping wet eyes and blissful breath.
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