Six Organs Of Admittance - Shelter From The Ash
Six Organs Of Admittance
Shelter From The Ash (Drag City, 2007)
Download: Six Organs Of Admittance - "Strangled Road"
Download: Six Organs Of Admittance - "Jade Like Wine"
Six Organs of Admittance is back with another album. Ben Chasny, Organs' sole constant member, has been on a blitz, releasing three albums in as many years. His latest, Shelter From The Ash, contains only eight songs, but clocks in at an impressive 43 minutes.
I tend to be a little skeptical of the "release tons of music all the time" thing. A lot artists who release albums all the time fall into the trapping of putting out half-baked songs that could have used a little more planning and others that should have been left on the cutting room floor (I'm looking at you, Ryan Adams!). And unfortunately, my skepticism proved to be well-founded on Shelter.
Shelter opens up with "Alone With the Alone," a freak-out guitar solo overlaid with haunting Indian-inspired melodies. The whole acid-freak, pseudo-hippie jam-based song construction normally strikes me as a little self-indulgent Chasny, however, has just the right amount of subtlety in the layering of instruments and allows the melodies to dribble in and out in their own time. The song feels incredibly organic, but there's still enough complexity to keep the listener's mind from wandering.
"Alone With the Alone" comes across as gloomy as possible despite its soaring guitar lick. But the darkness really sets in on the following track, "Strangled Road." The track starts out with Chasny's low voice drawling and scraping over a sparse, slow guitar. Throughout the song, Chasny gains extra guitars, steam and contributing vocalist/girlfriend Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Marker, Basalt Fingers) until the track breaks open into a lonesome, weeping guitar solo.
"Strangled Road" sets the tone for the rest of the album, but is also the album’s highlight. Shelter certainly lives up to its name – the record absolutely brims with songs for the lonely. But they all blend together. What impressed me on the first two tracks, like the overlay of Indian-themed melodies over lonesome cowboy blues, the slow folk stomp and wrenching solos – becomes painfully mundane. The slow build to a soaring solo structure feels incredibly worn by the halfway mark and by three-quarters through, the album had completely lost me. "Jade Like Wine," however, puts up a brief struggle, infusing the album with one last bit of energy before the decline.
As someone who normally enjoys the drama and delirium of Six Organs of Admittance, I hate to say it, but this record completely lacks any sort of momentum. While "Alone With the Alone" and "Strangled Road" are impressive tracks, the album collapses in on itself due to formulaic, uninspired songwriting.