US - California - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05
Six Organs of Admittance
School of the Flower
Back in 2002, I was taken away to a psychedelic/mindful world where I was asked to "know, know what you've done, and what you've become" and "shed your skin, shed your fear" by Ben Chasny and his guitars and flutes of the wonderful and overlooked-at-the-time album Dark Noontide. They were "discovered" by the ever-popular Devendra Banhart last year and included on the Golden Apples of the Sun roster. Now they're back with an album apparently everybody knows about, because you can find it at my hometown's own local shit-holes/record stores. Luna Kafé is a bit late breaking School of the Flower; it's already been written about a good bit and the critics seem to like it a lot (none of that really matters, of course). Popularity aside, I am happy for 6 Organs' success. Let's see what this new record has to offer.
Just like Dark Noontide, this is a short record, its 8 tracks clocking in at just under 40 minutes. Opener has two names: "8th Cognition / All You've Left". The first sounds are growls with rhythmless toms and cymbols. Small snippets of Rhodes improv cut through, just enough to provide a bit of a tonality. This heady intro gives way after 1:30 to the familiar and beautiful sound of the band. A simple guitar melody and bassline plays over a sustained organ. Ben's voice reminds me of times and feelings past; he's able to reach my memory-well with this inspired melody. The understatement here is powerful.
"Take yourself away from here. Turn, look down where you've been. All you've lived, all you've loved, all you'll ever be. All you'll never be".
The guitar in the 1:40 "Words for Two" seems a bit influenced by old Mr. Banhart. If true, here we have an influence that is seemlessly weaved, and all the more affecting for it. "Saint Cloud" uses a drone that made its way into my head first on Dark Noontide. It's a drone that honestly makes you feel like you're on Mushrooms. This is an album that does get into you, and in a sneaky way. It's also one of those that you might be hard pressed to find opportune times to put on. It's not always that I have friends over that care to start tripping when I put a record on. "Procession of Cherry Blossom Spirits" is next. A deep drone supports more understated yet difficult guitar parts. A guitar-cry- shoots up at the 2:15 mark that pulls you out of the murk, if only for a moment. It comes back again though, this time droning. "Home" is a good name for a tune, eh? It's next and starts the half-point. A simple guitar progression here supports more odd instrumental cries before Ben sings a melody that really comes on. Its familiarity so powerful that I feel as though I've heard this most original song a thousand times before.
The title track is 6th (coincidence?). "School of the Flower" is fucking long. 13:31 seconds (coincidence?). Friday the 6th always comes before Friday the 13th (coincidence?). This coming Friday is Friday the 13th! (coincidence?). Ben's guitar playing is at its best in this long and psychedelic song. The funnily titled "Thicker than a Smokey" is next. It's another understated song with a familiar melody. "Lisboa" is last, and concludes by taking the listener down to a velvet grave.
This is a real gem of an album, and 6 Organs of Admittance have lost none of their charm in popularity. Go on down to your own local shit-holes and buy this one up.
Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks