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Six Organs Of Admittance - 93 Feet East, London, 26/11/2007

  by Dominic B. Simpson

published: 11 / 1 / 2008

Six Organs Of Admittance - 93 Feet East, London, 26/11/2007


At 93 Feet East in London, Dominic Simpson watches psych-folk act Six Organs of Admittance play a contemplative, but subdued and somewhat too restrained set to promote 'Shelter from the Ash', their much acclaimed latest album

Situated directly on fashionable Brick Lane, 93 Feet East – like Cargo nearby – feels very much one of East London’s loci for music around here, the venue hosting some high-profile gigs while maintaining it’s trendy aloofness. Located just down the road from the new Rough Trade East shop, its warehouse feel, with pipes winding across the walls, only adds to its cutting-edge feel. It’s at odds with the opening solo acoustic act, whose music sounds beamed directly from 60s San Francisco or the Appalachian mountains, unaffected by the stresses of modern life. It’s the following support act that’s the real revelation, though: Mick Flower of Vibracathedral Orchestra, backed by musicians, including John Moloney of Sunburned Hand of the Man, blasts through barely half-an-hour of ecstatic drone rock, the set one big peak of shimmering guitar noise. It’s electrifying, extraordinary stuff, and Flower leaves an audience stunned. After such a tumescent set, Six Organs of Amittance can only falter. Here on the back of a new album, 'Shelter From the Ash', Ben Chasny’s decision to begin the set with a short acoustic set, running through tracks including ‘Jade Like Wine’ from the new album, is a brave one. But it’s at odds with a packed audience still reeling from the previous act’s fireworks, and in the mood to rock; inevitably there’s a rise in crowd chatter as Chasny enunciates his contemplative vocals about being “lost in the thorn and the thickets”. Nonetheless, his hand-picking is superb, evoking the spirits of greats in the field such as John Fahey and Robbie Basho; he seems to overcome any nerves that may come with such a stark way to open the set. Finally he straps on a guitar, with cohorts Keith Wood (a floating member of Sunburned and his own project Hush Arbors) alternating between bass and second guitar, and Moloney once again on drums; rather than rocking out, though, he keeps the tension taut with the desolate ‘Strangled Road’ and the brooding mantra-like riff of ‘Coming to Get You’, with it’s angry clouds of guitar spreading out like a billowing forest fire. The former remains a brilliantly evocative track even without the backing vocals of Elisa Ambrogio (of the Magik Markers) - who features on the album version – as it takes in the vast and majestic canyons, deserts and endless sunsets of California, where Chasny resides. The build-up turns out to be the set’s flaw; while the slow-burning feel sets off a wave of nodding heads in the audience, it’s not quite enough, and restlessness begins to nag. When he does finally let rip, with Moloney expertly linking in with his pounding of the drums on the repetitive freak-out of the title track of the 'School of the Flower' LP, it feels like the kind of free-rock heights that the band should aspire to more, the band letting themselves go to the rhythm of the music. Likewise the bands’ rendition of the title track of the new album is also equally spellbinding: a cinematic, widescreen rocker that’s far too short on record and here live too. Of course, Six Organs wouldn’t be themselves without the slow, brooding numbers that sit side-by-side with the rockers. Yet whilst restraint can be a useful tool in a band’s palette of sound, you get the feeling that they could let go a bit more

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Six Organs Of Admittance - 93 Feet East, London, 26/11/2007

Six Organs Of Admittance - 93 Feet East, London, 26/11/2007

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Interview (2007)
Six Organs Of Admittance - Interview
Guitarist Ben Chasny, who also plays in Comets on Fire and lots of other act, talks to Dominic Simpson about his psych-folk project Six Organs of Admittance and its new album, 'Shelter from the Ash'

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